September 13, 2019
Actor is first parent to be sentenced among 34 charged in US scheme involving wealthy parents and elite universities
Felicity Huffman to be sentenced in college admissions bribery scandal case
Felicity Huffman returns to court in Boston on Friday afternoon to be sentenced for her role in a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal.
The Desperate Housewives and Transamerica star actor is scheduled to appear in Boston’s federal court after pleading guilty in May to a single count of conspiracy and fraud.
She’s the first parent to be sentenced among 34 charged in the widespread US scheme involving wealthy parents and elite universities.
Huffman has admitted 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 center of the scheme.
Prosecutors say Huffman’s daughter was unaware of the arrangement.
They have recommended a month in prison for the actor, along with supervised release and a $20,000 fine. Huffman’s lawyers say she should get a year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.
Netflix postponed a film featuring Huffman, after the scandal was revealed.
The case is seen as an indicator of what’s to come for others charged in the case. Over the next two months, nearly a dozen other parents are scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty. A total of 15 parents have pleaded guilty, while 19 are fighting the charges.
Huffman’s legal team argues that she was only a “customer” in a broader scheme orchestrated by others.
In past cases of academic fraud, they said, only the ringleaders have gone to prison. In a 4 September letter asking for leniency, Huffman said she turned to the scheme because her daughter’s low math scores jeopardized her dream of attending college and pursuing an acting career.
She now carries “a deep and abiding shame”, she said. Prosecutors countered that Huffman knew the scheme was wrong but chose to participate anyway.
They said she wasn’t driven by need or desperation, “but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness”.
The amount Huffman paid is relatively low compared to other alleged bribes. Some parents are accused of paying up to $500,000 to get their children into elite schools by having them labeled as recruited athletes for sports they didn’t even play.
Among those fighting the charges are actor Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, accused of paying to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California.
Authorities say it’s the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, with 51 people charged.
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