Felicity Huffman and 12 wealthy parents plead guilty in college admissions bribery scheme
'Desperate Housewives' star Felicity Huffman and 12 wealthy parents, plus one university coach, have pleaded guilty in the 'Varsity Blues' college admissions scandal.
Newport Beach businessman Rick Singer orchestrated the $25 million scheme, in which parents cheated to get their privileged children into highly selective universities, like Yale, Stanford and USC. Some parents, like Huffman, paid to inflate their children's SAT scores, while others, like Full House star Lori Loughlin, bribed college coaches to falsely designate and recruit their students as star athletes. In the event the students did not play the sport, photos were staged or fabricated with Photoshop.
"I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office," Huffman said in a statement. "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."
"I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community," she continued. "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."
"My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. 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," the statement concluded.
According to the criminal complaint, Huffman discussed the scheme with Singer through multiple email exchanges and recorded phone calls. Prosecutors say Huffman paid Singer $15,000 to facilitate cheating on her daughter's SAT by bribing a proctor to correct her answers afterward. As a result, Huffman's daughter scored a 1420 out of a maximum 1600, which is 400 points higher than her score on the PSAT one year earlier.
Prosecutors say former University of Texas tennis coach Michael Center and the 13 parents - Felicity Huffman Gregory and Marcia Abbott, Jane Buckingham, Gordon Caplan, Robert Flaxman, Agustin Huneeus Jr., Marjorie Klapper, Peter Jan Sartorio, Stephen Semprevivo, Devin Sloane, Bruce Isackson and Davina Isackson - agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. (In addition, Bruce Isackson will plead guilty to money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the IRS for claiming a tax deduction on the bribe.)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts charged 50 people in the 'Varsity Blues' scheme, and prosecutors say they will be pushing for jail time. A law enforcement official told CNN the defendants could face anywhere from six to 21 months in prison, although the ultimate sentence depends on many factors. Loughlin and the other individuals charged have not indicated they will plead guilty, as of this writing.