Former Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman faces prison time after pleading guilty to using bribery and other forms of fraud as part of the $35 million US college admissions scandal.
The actress, 56, apologised for the “pain” her actions have caused. She insisted her plan to cheat on the SAT test to get her daughter a higher score was concocted without the 18-year-old’s knowledge.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her,” Huffman said in a statement after her plea was entered in a federal court.
“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.”
Federal prosecutors in Boston said on Monday (US time) that 14 wealthy parents including Huffman had agreed to plead guilty over what has been called the largest college admissions scam in US history.
Huffman pleaded guilty to paying $21,055 to a fake charity associated with admissions consultant William ‘Rick’ Singer to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs.
Prosecutors alleged Huffman paid Singer and his nonprofit organisation, Key Worldwide Foundation, which prosecutors said was really a front for accepting bribes.
Singer then allegedly facilitated cheating on Huffman’s daughter’s SAT test by having a proctor correct the teen’s answers.
Huffman discussed the scheme in a phone call with Singer that was recorded by investigators.
The mother-of-two faces up to 20 years in prison but as part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend jail time at the “low end” of the sentencing range, reportedly of between four to 10 months.
Huffman also agreed to a $28,000 fine. Prosecutors will not bring further charges, although a federal judge will have the final say on the outcome for all defendants.
“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,” Huffman said in her statement.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community.
“I want to apologise to them and, especially, I want to apologise 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.”
The plea came five days after Huffman and other wealthy parents including Full House actress Lori Loughlin appeared in a US District Court in Boston for the first time since they were accused of allegedly taking part in the scheme to get their children into top colleges.
On March 12, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced it had charged 50 people in the cheating scandal.
The accused individuals faced felony charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Loughlin, 54, who is not part of the group entering guilty pleas, was also charged for allegedly giving $500,000 to say her daughters were part of the rowing team, when that was not true, the indictment stated.
All the parents will have to return to Boston to enter formal guilty pleas but no new court dates were set.