LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman has agreed to plead guilty along with a dozen other parents across the country to charges stemming from a wide-ranging college-admissions cheating scandal, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
The Department of Justice announced Monday that Huffman is pleading guilty to charges that she paid Newport Beach businessman Rick Singer – the mastermind behind the multimillion-dollar scandal — $15,000 in the form of a donation to help her oldest daughter cheat on the SAT. She is pleading guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
Federal prosecutors say Huffman is facing between four and 10 months in prison under the terms of her plea agreement, although her attorneys are expected to argue that her crime receive a lower classification, entitling her to a sentence of zero to six months behind bars.
The conspiracy charge normally carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine up to $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, has not been charged in the case.
Huffman released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office.
“I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
Singer advised Huffman to arrange for her daughter to be granted extra time for her SAT exam by having her certified as having a learning disability, prosecutors said. Singer then arranged for a specific person to proctor that test and correct the girl’s answers. Her daughter received a 1420 on the test.
Of the 14 defendants pleading guilty, 13 are parents and the fourteenth is a college coach. Among them are Bruce Isackson and Davina Isackson, who are confessing to paying bribes in order to get their two daughters admitted to UCLA and USC as student athletes. One of their daughters, Lauren Isackson, actually played on UCLA’s practice squad. The other was admitted to USC as a member of the crew team even though she had never rowed.
On March 12, the FBI charged 50 people — including 33 parents and nine coaches — in a massive bribery scheme in which wealthy families paid millions to Singer to help their children cheat on standardized tests and bribe test administrators and college coaches to help get their kids into top universities like UCLA, USC, Yale, Stanford and Georgetown. Along with Felicity Huffman, actress Lori Loughlin was also charged.
Parents charged in the alleged scheme are accused of paying Singer a total of $25 million between 2011 and February 2019 for the arrangement. Along with bribing test administrators and college coaches, Singer used some of that money to create fake athletic profiles to help get students admitted into athletic programs.
Here is a list of the other 13 people pleading guilty along with Huffman:
— Bruce Isackson, 61, and his wife Davina Isackson, 55, are pleading guilty to paying bribes to get two of their daughters admitted to UCLA and USC as student athletes.
— Jane Buckingham, 50, of Beverly Hills agreed to pay Singer $50,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for her son.
— Robert Flaxman, 62, of Laguna Beach agreed to pay Singer $75,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter.
— Agustin Huneeus Jr., 53, of San Francisco agreed to pay Singer $300,000 to participate in both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the college recruitment scheme for his daughter.
— Marjorie Klapper, 50, of Menlo Park agreed to pay Singer $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for her son.
— Peter Jan Sartorio, 53, of Menlo Park agreed to pay Singer $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter;
— Stephen Semprevivo, 53, of Los Angeles agreed to pay Singer $400,000 to participate in the college recruitment scheme for his son.
— Devin Sloane, 53, of Los Angeles agreed to pay Singer $250,000 to participate in the college recruitment scheme for his son.
— Gregory Abbott, 68, of New York, N.Y., together with his wife, Marcia, 59, agreed to pay Singer $125,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for their daughter.
— Gordon Caplan, 52, of Greenwich, Conn., agreed to pay Singer $75,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter.
— Michael Center, 54, of Austin, Texas, the former head coach of men’s tennis at the University of Texas at Austin, was charged with personally accepting $60,000 in cash from Singer, as well as $40,000 directed to the University of Texas tennis program, in exchange for designating the child of one of Singer’s clients as a tennis recruit.