LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday in Boston federal court to 14 days in prison, the first parent to be sentenced for her role in the massive nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.
Along with her 14 day sentence, Felicity Huffman was also given a $30,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and a year of supervised release, according to CBS Boston.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office had recommended Huffman be sentenced to one month behind bars, followed by a year of supervised release and a fine of $20,000.
Her husband, actor William H. Macy, was by her side during the hearing. He was not charged in the case.
The 56-year-old “Desperate Housewives” star pleaded guilty in May to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying a $15,000 bribe to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SAT answers.
Before sentencing, she tearfully described her daughter asking why Huffman didn’t trust her.
“I can only say I am so sorry, Sophia,” Huffman said. “I was frightened. I was stupid, and I was so wrong. I am deeply ashamed of what I have done. I have inflicted more damage than I could ever imagine. I now see all the things that led me down this road, but ultimately none of the reasons matter because at the end of the day I had a choice. I could have said no.”
In his argument for incarceration, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen said Friday that prosecutors had no reason to doubt the rationale she offered — her fears and insecurities as a parent — for taking part in the scheme.
“But with all due respect to the defendant, welcome to parenthood,” Rosen said. “Parenthood is terrifying, exhausting and stressful, but that’s what every parent goes through. … What parenthood does not do, it does not make you a felon, it does not make you cheat, in fact it makes you want to serve as a positive role model for your children.”
More than two dozen people submitted letters of support to the court, including her “Desperate Housewives” co-star Eva Longoria and Macy. In Macy’s letter, he said that his wife’s only interest now is to “make amends and help her daughters heal and move on.”
Huffman is just one of 51 defendants charged back in March in the nationwide bribery scandal, in which well-heeled parents paid Newport Beach businessman William Rick Singer thousands of dollars to ease their children’s way into top colleges and universities like USC, UCLA, Stanford and Yale. The scheme also ensnared several local college athletic coaches, many of whom were fired for helping these students be admitted as student-athletes, even though they had no experience in the sports they were being recruited for, in exchange for donations to the athletic programs or outright bribes.
Over the next two months, nearly a dozen other parents are scheduled to be sentenced. Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty, while 19 are fighting the charges.
Huffman was one of 15 parents who have pled guilty so far, but Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced in the case.
Nineteen more parents are fighting the charges. They include “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, who have pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges in the scandal and are awaiting trial. They are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes so their two daughters would be designated as recruits to the USC crew team, even though neither ever rowed crew. Both daughters are still enrolled at USC, but have not attended class since the scandal broke.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)