Felicity Huffman will serve 14 days in federal prison, followed by a year of probation for bribing a man to falsify her daughter’s SAT and get the girl a higher score.
The actress 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.’
Those tears may have been brought on in part by the remarks made earlier in the hearing by the lead prosecutor, who reprimanded the actions that lead to Huffman’s indictment and ridiculed 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.’
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.
‘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.’
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
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
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.
If a poor, single mom from Akron goes to jail, there is no reason why a wealthy, privileged mother should avoid the same fate.”
He also took aim at Huffman’s decision to cite her frayed relationship with her two daughters in her letter to the court.
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 could mean that Huffman spends next Sunday night behind bars or 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.
Huffman admitted to paying $15,000 to a fake charity to facilitate cheating on her daughter Sofia’s SATs in April.
Soon after the news broke, the actress released a statement saying she was ‘ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community.’
The actress also stated: ‘My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her.’
Family: The actress (abive 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
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.
Huffman is one of two Hollywood stars wrapped up in the scandal.
Fellow actress Lori 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.