Authorities are calling it the "largest college admissions scam ever."
Felicity Huffman has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. The Desperate Housewives actress was accused of paying $15,000 to increase her daughter's SAT scores. Along with her, 30 other parents have been charged. The sentence was handed down to Huffman in a federal court in Boston on Friday, reports CNN. The actress will have to pay a fine of $30,000, perform 250 hours of community service, and spend 14 days in prison. She will also have to serve 1 year of probation.
She was seen heading to court with her husband, actor William H. Macy. She apologized to the judge and her family. "I am deeply ashamed of what I have done," she told the judge. "At the end of the day I had a choice to make. I could have said, 'no.'" In a statement to the press, she said, "There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period. And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children."
So, why did she do it? In a letter to the judge last week, Huffman wrote that she wanted to give her daughter a fair shot, but now she admits she sees "the irony in that statement." Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen said, "With all due respect to the defendant, welcome to parenthood." Prosecutors suggested that Huffman pay a $20,000 fine and spend at least a month in jail. "Most parents have the moral compass and integrity not to step over the line," he said. "The defendant did not."
Judge Indira Talwani, who presided over the case, said, "It was not an impulsive act. Trying to be a good mother doesn't excuse this." The judge believed that Huffman got the right sentence. "You can rebuild your life after this," the judge said. "You've paid your dues." But others seem to disagree. Politician Bernie Sanders posted a screenshot of an article headline on Instagram about the story of Tanya McDowell who got sentenced to 5 years in prison for just enrolling her son in a school outside their listed district. Huffman who paid to get her daughter in college just gets just 14 days. Except Tanya McDowell is Black, poor, and homeless. Many believe the American criminal justice functions just as it was always designed—to protect the white and wealthy.
Huffman will report to prison in 6 weeks, on October 25. The name of the prison has not yet been announced and will eventually be determined by the Bureau of Prisons.