Boston - Actress Felicity Huffman, the
first parent sentenced in a wide-ranging U.S. college admissions
cheating scandal, was given a 14-day prison term on Friday and
made a somber apology in federal court for paying to rig her
daughter's entrance exam.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also ordered Huffman, the
former star of the popular television series "Desperate
Housewives" and one-time Academy Award nominee, to pay a $30,000
fine, undergo a year of supervised release and complete 250
hours of community service. Huffman, 56, pleaded guilty in May.
"My first apology is to you," Huffman, wearing a black
dress, told the judge immediately before being sentenced.
"I realise now as a mother that love and truth must go hand
in hand, and love at the expense of truth is not real love," the
actress said. "I will deserve whatever punishment you give me."
Huffman was released from court after the judge ordered her
to report to prison on October 25. Her husband, actor William H.
Macy, who had been seated in the courtroom and is not charged in
the scheme, immediately approached her after court adjourned and
rubbed her shoulders.
The scandal cast a spotlight on the advantages of wealth in
college admissions and the lengths to which some rich Americans
have gone to get their children into top universities at the
expense of other applicants.
Huffman was among 51 people charged in a vast scheme in
which wealthy parents were accused of conspiring to use bribery
and other forms of fraud to secure for their children admission
to prominent U.S. universities. These schools included Yale,
Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, the
University of Texas and Wake Forest.
After the sentencing hearing, Huffman issued a statement
expanding on her apology.
"I especially want to apologise to the students who work
hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who
make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children," Huffman
said in the statement.
"My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community
will forgive me for my actions," Huffman added.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of one month behind
bars after Huffman tearfully entered a guilty plea to conspiracy
related to her payment of $15,000 to have someone secretly
correct answers her daughter Sophia provided on the SAT
standardized test used for college admissions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen said incarceration was
the only way to punish a wealthy person like Huffman whose real
currency is fame.
"In prison there are no paparazzi. It's the great leveler,"
Huffman's lawyer, Martin Murphy, said the actress and
particularly her daughter Sophia had suffered enough and urged
the judge to limit the punishment to probation. In the days
after Huffman's arrest, her daughter's top choice college
rescinded its acceptance of her.
"There are consequences. Her daughter is not going to
school. Consequences are likely to continue," Murphy told the
More than 30 parents were charged in the investigation
dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, also including actress Lori
Loughlin, who starred in the TV series "Full House," and her
designer husband Mossimo Giannulli, as well as a host of
corporate executives, financiers and lawyers. Unlike Huffman,
Loughlin and Giannulli pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said the accused parents acted with the help of
William "Rick" Singer, a California college admissions
consultant who pleaded guilty in March to helping bribe
university sports coaches to present clients' children as fake
athletic recruits. Singer's sentencing is set for later this
Huffman, who won an Emmy award for "Desperate Housewives"
and was nominated for an Oscar as best actress for her role in
the 2005 film "Transamerica," said the cheating scheme was
proposed by Singer.
Huffman said her daughter was unaware of the scheme until
the actress was arrested on March 12.
"I find Motherhood bewildering," Huffman said in a letter to
the judge before sentencing.
"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 have compromised my
daughter's future, the wholeness of my family and my own
integrity," Huffman said in her letter.
Macy, 69, said their daughter "certainly paid the dearest
price" when her desired school - which remained unnamed in court
documents - rescinded its acceptance of her after Huffman's