BOSTON (CBSLA/AP) — A tearful Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Boston for her role in the college admissions bribery scandal.
The 56-year-old “Desperate Housewives” star was one of dozens of parents arrested in the scandal in which wealthy families paid millions to Newport Beach businessman Rick 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.
Huffman admitted that she paid 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 pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Sentencing was set for Sept. 13. Prosecutors have said they will seek a sentence of between four and 10 months in prison. Because Huffman agreed to plead guilty, prosecutors have promised to recommend a sentence at the low end of that range, but the judge could also choose not to send her to prison.
She arrived at court holding the hand of her brother Moore Huffman Jr. and did not say anything to journalists. In court, she wore a gray dress and a sweater and sat flanked by her attorneys while her brother watched from the front row. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, who was not charged in the case, did not attend.
She stood with her hands clasped in front of her and responded, “Yes, your honor,” when asked whether she understood the charges.
In court, Huffman explained her daughter had been seeing a neuropsychologist for years and getting extra time on tests since she was 11 — an apparent attempt to explain that her daughter’s doctor had no part in the scheme.
“I just didn’t want to create the impression that neuropsychologists have any part in this,” a tearful Huffman said before stopping to collect herself.
Last month, Huffman was one of 13 parents and a coach who announced they were pleading guilty in the case. On April 8, Huffman released a statement in which she wrote, “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.”
She also claimed her daughter was unaware of her actions.
Meanwhile, fellow actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion mogul Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they paid $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to USC as crew recruits, even though neither had ever rowed.
Also pleading guilty Monday was Los Angeles businessman Devin Sloane, who paid $250,000 to get his son into USC as a fake water polo recruit.
Sloane, who founded a drinking and wastewater systems company, bought water polo gear online and worked with a graphic designer to create a bogus photo of his son playing the sport for the teen’s application, officials say.
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.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)