Sep 13, 2019

Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in prison in college admissions scandal

Actress Felicity Huffman is escorted by Police into court on May 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Actress Felicity Huffman escorted by police into court on May 13 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Getty Images/ Joseph Prezioso / AFP

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced actress Felicity Huffman on Friday to 14 days in prison, a $30,000 fine, a year of supervised probation and 250 hours of community service in part of what authorities have called the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Justice Department, per the AP.

Why it matters: Huffman is now the first parent to be sentenced of 34 charged in the admissions scandal led by consultant William Singer. The federal investigation, dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," characterized the scheme as involving corrected admissions test scores, falsified student achievements and disabilities and bribed college coaches and administrators at prominent universities.

Context: Huffman was charged for paying $15,000 in 2017 to have her daughter's SAT score secretly corrected. In May, Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Earlier this month, she wrote in a letter to the federal judge presiding over her case that she consulted Singer for a year but did not know the scheme existed.

  • The amount Huffman paid is relatively low compared to other bribes alleged in the scheme.
  • The college admissions scandal involved at least $25 million, 750 families and went on from 2011 to early 2019.
  • Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, recently pleaded not guilty to their roles in the scheme.

How it worked: Singer managed and profited from the scheme through his nonprofit called The Key Worldwide Foundation.

  • Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud U.S. and obstruction of justice in March.
  • Federal prosecutors charged more than 50 people in their probe.
  • The schools involved included Yale University, Wake Forest University, the University of San Diego, Stanford University, Georgetown University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.

What's next: "The case is seen as an indicator of what’s to come for others charged in the case. Over the next two months, nearly a dozen other parents are scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty. A total of 15 parents have pleaded guilty, while 19 are fighting the charges," per the AP.

Go deeper: Timeline: The major developments in the college admissions scandal

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