Felicity Huffman issued a public apology on Friday after she was sentenced to two weeks in federal prison for paying to inflate her daughter’s college admission test scores.
‘I accept the court’s decision today without reservation,’ the Desperate Housewives star wrote in her statement.
‘I have always been prepared to accept whatever punishment Judge [Indira] Talwani [of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts] imposed.
‘I broke the law. I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime.
‘There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period.
‘I would like to apologize again to my daughter, my husband, my family and the educational community for my actions.
‘And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children.
Desperate housewife: Felicity Huffman (above arriving in court) was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison for paying $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT falsified by a proctor
‘I have learned a lot over the last six months about my flaws as a person. My goal now is to serve the sentence that the court has given me.
‘I look forward to doing my community service hours and making a positive impact on my community.
‘I also plan to continue making contributions wherever I can well after those service hours are completed.
‘I can promise you that in the months and years to come that I will try and live a more honest life, serve as a better role model for my daughters and family and continue to contribute my time and energies wherever I am needed.
‘My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions.’
Meanwhile, as Huffman prepares to serve her prison sentence, fellow actor Lori Loughlin, who along with husband Mossimo Giannulli has also been charged in the college bribery scandal, is reported to be closely following the latest legal developments in the case.
Unlike Huffman and several other defendants who have made plea agreements with federal prosecutors, Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded not guilty.
‘Lori is aware of Felicity’s sentence, and is processing what that means for her,’ a source close to the Full House star told PEOPLE.
‘Her only move now is to take this to court and to prove that she is not guilty of what she’s charged with.’
While Huffman received two weeks in prison for paying $15,000 to inflate her daughter’s SAT scores, Loughlin is alleged to have paid $500,000 to fraudulently have her daughters admitted to the University of Southern California by claiming membership on the crew team.
If convicted, Loughlin faces a maximum of 40 years in prison, though legal observers doubt that a judge would impose that harsh of a sentence.
Lori Loughlin, the Full House star, is the other Hollywood actor caught up in the college bribery scandal. She and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have both pleaded not guilty. Loughlin is seen center while Giannulli is seen walking behind her at right in Boston on August 27
‘If she’s found guilty, she will go to jail; that is clear,’ the source close to Loughlin told PEOPLE.
‘And if another deal is offered to her, which I don’t think it will be, she will go to jail. Her only chance of avoiding jail is to beat these charges.
‘Lori is a smart woman; she understands that.
‘She’s scared and upset, but she’s resolved to be strong and to fight this.
‘She will do what she has to do to protect herself and her family.’
The source added that Loughlin now regrets not taking a plea deal when she had an opportunity to do so shortly after her arrest.
‘She didn’t understand the entire nature of the charges against her, and she wasn’t even sure if or how she had broken the law,’ the source said.
‘It was very early, and she didn’t have all the information that she has now.
‘Based on what she understood at the time, she made the best choice for herself.
‘Now there is no deal on the table, and she has to have faith that the courts and the prosecution will move fairly and not make an example out of her.’
The source added: ‘This has been a rough day.
‘Lori is going to move forward as best as she can, but now she has a little more clarity about what will happen next.’
In addition to her 14-day prison sentence, Huffman was also sentenced to a year of probation for paying a five-figure bribe in exchange for a proctor falsifying her daughter’s standardized aptitude test to get the teen a higher score.
Risky business: Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli, seen in 2012, rejected a plea deal that would have required them both to spend two years in prison — a decision that reportedly put tremendous strain on the relationship
Crumbling family? Their oldest daughter is ‘extremely concerned’ that her parents may split as they face up to 40 years in prison for their alleged involvement in the Operation Varsity Blues investigation; seen in 2017
The actress, 56, addressed the court just moments before she learned her fate, breaking down in tears as she said: ‘I have inflicted more damage than I could’ve ever imagined.’
She then admitted her guilt once more and told the judge her actions were ‘frightened, stupid and so wrong,’ and added that she deserved whatever sentence was handed down.
That tearful display came almost 30 minutes after the hearing kicked off with the federal prosecutor assigned to the case reprimanding the actions that resulted in Huffman’s indictment and ridiculing her excuses.
Right off the bat, the prosecution commented on Huffman’s claim that it was her ‘parental anxiety’ that lead her to bribe an official in order to guarantee her daughter a better SAT test score.
‘With all due respect to the defendant, welcome to parenthood,’ said Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen.
‘There’s no instruction manual. Parenthood is exhausting and stressful, but that’s what every parent goes through.’
He later noted: ‘Parenthood does not make you a felon or make you cheat. It makes you serve as a positive role model.’
Prosecutors reiterated their sentencing recommendation to the court on Friday by very plainly stating: ‘The defendant, Felicity Huffman, must go to jail for one month because the only meaningful and sufficient sanction for he criminal activity she engaged in is prison.’
Huffman was ordered to self-report to a facility determined by the Bureau of Prisons on October 25 by Judge Indira Talwani, who shared with the court how she arrived at her ruling after hearing from prosecutors, the defense and Huffman.
‘The outrage in this case is a system that is already so distorted by money and privilege in the first place,’ noted Judge Indira Talwani.
‘And that in a system in that context, that you took the step of having one more advantage to put your child ahead.’
Huffman was later seen being comforted by her husband, and left the courthouse around 4pm with tears in her eyes.
All by her self: Huffman was seen with swollen eyes (above) as she left court on Friday after being sentenced
America crime: She will also have to pay a $30,000 fine, serve 250 hours of community service and will be placed on probation for a year following her release (above)
Fateful day: Huffman is the first parent to be sentenced for their role in the scandal, and the US Attorney has asked that the court order Huffman to prison for a month
Juxtaposition: ‘Wealthy people who get their picture taken get off, poor people who garner little more than a press release go to jail,’ said Rosen (above)
Rosen then used his time to tear apart Huffman’s defense team and their request for a year probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.
FELICITY HUFFMAN STATEMENT
I accept the court’s decision today without reservation. I have always been prepared to accept whatever punishment Judge Talwani imposed.
I broke the law. I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period.
‘I would like to apologize again to my daughter, my husband, my family and the educational community for my actions. And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children.
I have learned a lot over the last six months about my flaws as a person. My goal now is to serve the sentence that the court has given me.
I look forward to doing my community service hours and making a positive impact on my community. I also plan to continue making contributions wherever I can well after those service hours are completed. I can promise you that in the months and years to come that I will try and live a more honest life, serve as a better role model for my daughters and family and continue to contribute my time and energies wherever I am needed.
My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions.
‘The punishment she proposes, is no punishment at all,’ declared Rosen.
‘Punishment is doing something they don’t want to do, not something she already does and enjoys.’
As for the financial penalty suggested by the defense, Rosen stated: ‘A $20,000 fine for someone worth in the tens of millions amounts to little more than a rounding error.’
Rosen also came armed with a number of cases where lower-class Americans who committed similar offenses for far more altruistic reasons were sent to prison.
‘Wealthy people who get their picture taken get off, poor people who garner little more than a press release go to jail,’ said Rosen.
‘In prison, there is no paparazzi, in prison everyone is treated the same, wears the same clothes and is subject to the same rules.’
One of those cases, in Akron, Ohio, resulted in a mother being sentenced to 10 days in jail because she wanted her daughter to get into a better public school and falsified her address.
‘If a poor, single mom from Akron goes to jail, there is no reason why a wealthy, privileged mother should avoid the same fate,’ said Rosen.
He also took aim at Huffman’s decision to cite her frayed relationship with her two daughters in her letter to the court.
Huffman spoke about that herself later in the hearing, saying: ‘She said to me, “I don’t know who you are anymore, mom.” Then she asked, “Why didn’t you believe in me? Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?”‘
Rosen launched into his impassioned plea for prison time just minutes after Macy and Huffman made it past the media and into the court.
Macy was overheard saying ‘that wasn’t that bad’ to his wife as they took their seats, not knowing they were soon to be eviscerated by a federal prosecutor.
Prosecutors made a few not-so-subtle references to Huffman’s fame and fortune in their sentencing memo, suggesting that probation at her California compound would be more like a vacation.
‘Neither probation nor home confinement (in a large home in the Hollywood Hills with an infinity pool) would constitute meaningful punishment or deter others from committing similar crimes,’ read the court filing submitted last week.
A somber Huffman touched down in Boston on Wednesday with her husband ahead of her appearance in federal court.
The Oscar-nominated actress was in no mood to talk and hid behind a cap and sunglasses as she made her way though Logan International Airport.
Huffman was much more open in the letter she wrote to Judge Indira Talwani prior to her arrival in Boston.
In that letter, which was obtained by DailyMail.com, Huffman detailed the tearful confrontation she had with her daughter after her arrest.
That same court filing also revealed that on the morning of Huffman’s arrest, her teenage daughters woke up to find FBI agents with guns drawn to their heads.
‘I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family,’ wrote Huffman in her letter to Judge Talwani.
‘When my daughter looked at me and asked with tears streaming down her face, “Why didn’t you believe in me? Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?” I had no adequate answer for her.’
Huffman continued: ‘I could only say, “I am sorry. I was frightened and I was stupid.”‘
She then explained how this one decision caused her entire life to fall apart.
‘In my blind panic, I have done the exact thing that I was desperate to avoid,’ said Huffman.
‘I have compromised my daughter’s culture, the wholeness of my family and my own integrity.’
The actress also got support from over 30 friends and family members, with her siblings, Eva Longoria, Macy, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and more writing letters on her behalf that were filed in court.
In an odd twist, the judge’s decision means Huffman could spend next Sunday night at the Emmy Awards.
Her Netflix series When They See Us is nominated for 16 Emmys, though she was not among the acting nominees for her work on the program.
Huffman portrays Linda Fairstein, the former chief of the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, in When They See Us, which is directed by Ava DuVernay.
The actress has been nominated for five Emmys and won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 2005 for her work on Desperate Housewives.
Family: The actress (above with her siblings and Macy) entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud earlier this year
Foreshadow: Huffman’s offense was the least grievous of the parents who have been indicted, and prison time for her would likely mean prison time for the 33 other parents
Aatatck: Rosen then used his time to tear apart Huffman’s defense team and their request for a year probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.
Kill Bill: Macy was overheard saying ‘that wasn’t that bad’ to his wife as they took their seats, not knowing they were soon to be eviscerated by a federal prosecutor
Hanging with the Huffmans: US Attorney Andrew Lelling recommended in filings submitted last week in Boston that Huffman spend 30 days in jail because she acted ‘out of a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness’
Huffman admitted to paying $15,000 to a fake charity to facilitate cheating on her daughter Sofia’s SATs in April.
US Attorney Andrew Lelling recommended in filings submitted last week in Boston that Huffman spend 30 days in jail because she acted ‘out of a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness.’
Huffman’s lawyers argued she should get a year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine instead.
Her lawyers said in their reply to this memo on Thursday that prosecutors were ‘comparing apples to oranges’ in the case law they cited in their brief.
Federal documents show that while Huffman worked alone to iron out the details when the couple’s first daughter had her SAT changed by a proctor to improve her score, Macy was aware of the situation and the payment came from the couple’s joint account.
He in turn took a more active role in organizing the younger daughter’s fraudulent SAT, agreeing to the money and a set place and time much like his wife had done one year prior with their other child.
In that case however, the couple’s daughter achieved the results she had hoped for on her own and the mastermind behind the operation was informed that she would not be needing to submit a fraudulent score.
Huffman paid a $15,000 ‘charitable contribution ‘to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,’ states the complaint.
‘Huffman later made arrangements to pursue the scheme a second time, for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so,’ according to the documents.
The charging documents state that Huffman had the site where her daughter took the SATs moved from her own high school to a test center West Hollywood.
That was to avoid a teacher who knew the girl, who had also applied for and received extended time to take the test, from being present.
The girl’s test was then administered by a proctor who had flown in from Tampa and told investigators that he ‘facilitated cheating, either by correcting the student’s answers after the test or by actively assisting the student during the exam.’
That proctor, Mark Ridell, has also been charged.
In this case, Huffman’s daughter scored a 1420, which was a 400 point improvement from her PSAT results just one year prior.
Soon after the proctor was paid $40,000 by Key Worldwide Foundation, the same organization that Huffman would later give a $15,000 donation to, according to the documents.
The documents also include the transcript of a phone call between Huffman and the individual who facilitated the test in which she admits that her older daughter had assistance and expresses her desire for her younger daughter to get similar help.
In a follow up call just this past December, Huffman and her unnamed spouse spoke about their daughter wanting to get into Georgetown.
It was then decided that the young girl would take the exam twice, once on her own and once with help, to ensure she got the score necessary to get her into Georgetown, it is claimed.
Then, at the last second, the couple decided not to have their daughter take the test with assistance.
No nonsense: ‘The outrage in this case is a system that is already so distorted by money and privilege in the first place,’ noted Judge Indira Talwani (above)
Preparing for battle: Huffman grabbed Macy’s arm as they made there way through the reporters outside court
Heading off: The Huffman-Macys landed in Boston on Wednesday (above), two days before the court hearing
Loughlin is still in the pre-trial phase, with the Full House star fighting back hard and entering a not guilty plea against the claims she paid to get her eldest daughter into USC.
Loughlin and her husband are facing jail time because they opted to use the athletics route to gain their daughters admittance into University of Southern California.
This required daughters Isabella and Olivia, who had never before rowed in their lives, to pretend they were on crew teams.
In order to sell that, they posed for photos on ergometers, suggesting that they were both aware and willing participants in their parents’ plan.
Furthermore, Olivia knowingly had Singer’s team fill out her college applications according to the complaint.
‘On or about December 12, 2017, Loughlin e-mailed [Singer], copying Giannulli and their younger daughter [Olivia], to request guidance on how to complete the formal USC application, in the wake of her daughter’s provisional acceptance as a recruited athlete,’ states the complaint.
‘Loughlin wrote: “[Our younger daughter] has not submitted all her colleges [sic] apps and is confused on how to do so. I want to make sure she gets those in as I don’t want to call any attention to [her] with our little friend at [her high school]. Can you tell us how to proceed?”‘
In response, Singer wrote an email ‘directing an employee to submit the applications on behalf of the Giannullis’ younger daughter [Olivia].
Loughlin and Giannulli ‘agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,’ according to the documents.
The couple emailed Singer in 2016 about their daughters college prospects, stating that they wanted to do the necessary work to see that the girls got into USC as opposed to ASU.