Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison Friday for paying to have her eldest daughter’s SAT scores fudged, as part of the widespread college admissions fraud scandal fostered by the wealthy and semi-famous.
She will also have to pay a $30,000 fine and will be subjected to a year of supervised release.
Huffman pleaded guilty to fraud charges in May, and said her daughter was completely unaware that her parents had paid the scheme’s ringleader, Rick Singer, $15,000 to falsify her SAT scores.
Huffman's actions were made public earlier this year after the FBI sting operation known as "Operation Varsity Blues" identified the actress, best known for her role in “Desperate Housewives," as one of the 51 people who had in some way contributed to a widespread plot to bribe or cheat kids’ way into elite universities they wouldn’t have otherwise had a shot at attending.
Huffman’s payment — which facilitated someone taking the test in place of her daughter — was actually on the low end. Some parents forked over as much as $75,000, according to court documents.
Since the scandal came to light,15 of the 34 parents involved have pleaded guilty, and Huffman is the first parent to be sentenced. Federal prosecutors had previously requested she be imprisoned for one month and given a year of supervised release, in addition to a $20,000 fine, according to the Wall Street Journal. Home confinement would seem unfair, the prosecutors said, since Huffman lives in a large Hollywood Hills estate with an infinity pool.
Meanwhile, Huffman’s attorneys requested one year of probation and 250 hours of community service because she had apologized for her actions.
Huffman wrote in an apology letter delivered last week to Judge Indira Talwani — who ultimately decided her sentence in the Boston courtroom Friday — that she hired Singer on the recommendation of a friend and other mothers and “felt an urgency” to help her daughter, who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and was receiving inadequate math scores. She feared she “would be a bad mother if I didn’t do what Mr. Singer was suggesting.” She also considered doing the same cheating for her younger daughter, but later decided against it.
"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,” Huffman said in the letter.
Huffman also apologized in court Friday after Eric Rosen, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the judge “there is no excuse for what she did,” according to CNN.
For his part, Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, fraud charges, and obstruction of justice. Three college coaches he worked with to forge athletic abilities and get kids into college on sports scholarships have also pleaded guilty.
Lori Loughlin, another high-profile actress charged in the case, and her husband are also accused of cheating their daughter’s way into college. Loughlin pleaded not guilty.
Cover: Felicity Huffman arrives at federal court with her husband William H. Macy for sentencing in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)