Actress Felicity Huffman entered a guilty plea in federal court on Monday, two months after she was arrested in the college admissions cheating scheme that has ensnared wealthy parents across the nation.
The "Desperate Housewives" star pleaded guilty to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter's answers on the SAT. She reportedly considered the same for her younger daughter but decided against it.
The assistant U.S. attorney recommended four months of prison time for Huffman, 56. In addition, prosecutors recommended a $20,000 fine as well as 12 months of supervised release for the charge, which is a felony.
The consultant, Rick Singer, arranged for the cheating by having students obtain permission for extra time on the exams through diagnoses for things like learning disabilities, and then taking the exams at his testing center, prosecutors say.
In court, Huffman explained her daughter had been seeing a neuropsychologist for years and getting extra time on tests since she was 11 — an apparent attempt to explain that her daughter's doctor had no part in the scheme.
"I just didn't want to create the impression that neuropsychologists have any part in this," a tearful Huffman said before stopping to collect herself.
She arrived at court holding the hand of her brother Moore Huffman Jr. and did not say anything to journalists. In court, she wore a gray dress and a sweater and sat flanked by her attorneys while her brother watched from the front row. Her husband, "Shameless" actor William H. Macy — who was not charged —did not attend Monday's hearing.
Huffman, along with dozens of other rich and powerful parents — including "Full House" star Lori Loughlin — was arrested in March as part of "Operation Varsity Blues," an investigation into bribery for admissions into elite colleges.
While some parents, including Huffman, reportedly paid off standardized testing proctors, others, allegedly including Loughlin, used bribes to get their children admitted as athletic recruits.
Huffman was reportedly arrested and cuffed by armed FBI agents and released on a $250,000 bond.
The case has put the career of the Emmy-winning star in turmoil and laid bare the elite's ability to influence the education system.
Huffman told Fox News in a statement last month, "I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney's Office. 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."
She continued, "I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. 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," Huffman concluded. "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 Associated Press contributed to this report.