Prominent Houston tennis coach pleads not guilty in 'Varsity Blues' court arraignment

BOSTON, Massachusetts (KTRK) -- The first group of defendants in the so called "Varsity Blues" investigation that's resulted in the indictments of 50 plus people across the country was arraigned in court Monday.

Among the dozen defendants that mainly consisted of college coaches were two Houstonians.

Martin Fox, the well-known Houston tennis coach and basketball liaison, wore a light grey suit and was accompanied by his attorneys, including Houston attorney David Gerger.

"All I say is don't rush to judgement," said Gerger, an experienced white collar defense attorney. "Martin has helped thousands of kids over the last 30 years get involved in sports, and we're confident he doesn't belong in this indictment."

The other Houstonian involved is Niki Williams, a Yates High School teacher's assistant and test proctor. She was among the first defendants to come to court, walking in wearing a black suit and a blue blouse, more than two hours before her scheduled arraignment.

Fox, Williams, and the other defendants are accused of participating in a college admissions scam where wealthy parents paid off coaches and other intermediaries so their children could get accepted into elite universities.

Williams, who was very quiet and soft spoken in court, was allowed a court appointed attorney based on her finances. She is accused of allowing straw test takers to take the SAT in Houston in exchange for money.

Other defendants who made appearances include legendary USC water polo coach Jovan Vanvic and former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst. All the defendants had similar bond conditions, including restrictions on travel within the U.S.

However, Fox requested permission to sell some assets for living expenses and legal fees. The judge ordered Fox keep at least $429,300 worth of assets on hand, some of which had already been seized by the government.

"We pled not guilty today," said Fox's attorney Gerger, who declined to say whether he was going to take the case to trial.

A number of other defendants, including high profile actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, are scheduled to appear in court in early April.

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