Actress Felicity Huffman is among 13 parents charged in the college admissions scandal who agreed to plead guilty to bribery and other forms of fraud to get their kids into elite colleges and universities, federal authorities announced Monday.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who were among a total of nearly three dozen parents charged in the admissions scheme, were not on the list of those who negotiated plea agreements with federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, which oversees the investigation.
Huffman, known to millions from TV’s “Desperate Housewives” and her Oscar-nominated role in “Transamerica,” released a statement of contrition to MM in which she said she felt “deep regret and shame” for the pain she caused.
“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 wrote. “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,” she wrote. My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her,” she said. “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.”
There was no indication in the prosecutors’ announcement about the terms of the plea agreements or whether any of the defendants will be expected to serve time in prison.
But according to a copy of the proposed plea agreement posted on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of prison time “at the low end” of the federal sentencing guidelines range (months instead of a maximum of 20 years), a fine of $20,000, a year of supervised release, and restitution in an amount to be determined by the sentencing judge.
The agreement stipulates that Huffman will argue for less prison time under the sentencing guidelines. But the judge will have the final say on sentence and Huffman may not withdraw her guilty plea if she disagrees with how the judge calculates the guidelines or the sentence imposed.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, the mail fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or more.
The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or more. The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
A total of 50 people, including Huffman, were arrested last month and charged with conspiring with William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, California, and others, to bribe college officials and coaches and pay test monitors to falsely inflate their children’s college entrance exam scores to secure their admission, some as purported athletes.
Several parents and other alleged participants in the wide-ranging scheme pleaded guilty and are cooperating with authorities.