Actress Felicity Huffman is sentenced to prison for 14 days along with a fine of $30,000 for her role in what authorities called the largest college admission scam ever prosecuted. The Desperate Housewives actor admitted to paying $15,000 to boost her older daughter’s SAT scores in 2017 with the help of William Rick Singer, an admission consultant at the centre of the scam.
Felicity Huffman is one of the dozens of defendants, including actress Lori Loughlin, charged as a result of an investigation, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, into a massive college admission cheating scandals. The actress, who pleaded guilty in May to the fraud conspiracy charge, is the first parent to be sentenced among the 34 charged in the widespread US scheme involving wealthy parents and universities. Besides the prison period and the hefty fine, Huffman will also have to do 250 hours of community service.
Addressing the judge before being sentenced, Huffman cried as she described how her action had affected her daughter, who she claimed was not aware of the cheating scheme. She was further “deeply sorry” for her doings as she said, “And I especially want to apologise to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children”.
In an attorney filing last week, Felicity Huffman submitted a letter to the judge, intending to “shed light” on how she finally got to the day when she said ‘”Yes to this scheme”. The letter said, “In my desperation to be a good mother I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. She further said in the three-page letter, “I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair. I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter and failed my family”. Even though the actress is among the most-high profile figures to be charged, she paid the least amount allegedly doled out by the parents charged in the scandal, according to court documents.
The verdict is an indicator of what’s to come for others charged in the scam. Over the next two months, dozens of other parents are scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty, with a total of 15 parents having pleaded guilty while 19 other are fighting the charges. Actress Lori Loughlin, along with fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli are fighting the charges after being accused of paying to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California.
Authorities have called the scam the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, with 51 people charged.