Actress Felicity Huffman was scheduled to be sentenced by a federal judge on Friday for her role in the sweeping college admissions scandal for which she has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud.
The “Desperate Housewives” star will appear in Boston’s federal court to answer for the guilty plea she made in May. Her sentencing will mark the first of dozens of parents charged in the widespread scheme. Over the next two months, nearly a dozen other parents are scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty. Others, including actress Lori Laughlin, plan to fight the charges against them.
In advance of Huffman's sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani filed a memorandum Friday morning in which she sided with the probation department which saw no reason to increase sentencing guidelines, as requested by prosecutors, which was seen as a win for Huffman and other parents who also pled guilty.
Huffman admitted to paying $15,000 to boost her older daughter's SAT scores in 2017 with the help of William "Rick" Singer, the admissions consultant at the center of the scheme. Prosecutors say Huffman's daughter was unaware of the arrangement.
Prosecutors have recommended a month in prison, along with supervised release and a $20,000 fine. Huffman's lawyers are pushing for no prison time, a year of probation, and 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.
Huffman's legal team argues that she was only a "customer" in a broader scheme orchestrated by others. In past cases of academic fraud, they said, only the ringleaders have gone to prison.
In a Sept. 4 letter asking for leniency, Huffman said she turned to the scheme because her daughter's low math scores jeopardized her dream of going to college and pursuing a career in acting. She now carries "a deep and abiding shame," she said.
Prosecutors countered that Huffman knew the scheme was wrong but chose to participate anyway. They said she wasn't driven by need or desperation, "but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness."
The amount Huffman paid is relatively low compared to other bribes alleged in the scheme. Some parents are accused of paying up to $500,000 to get their children into elite schools by having them labeled as recruited athletes for sports they didn't even play.
Among those fighting the charges are actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying to get their two daughters Isabella and Olivia Jade admitted to the University of Southern California as athletes on the school’s crew team despite having never rowed in the sport.
It was previously rumored that Loughlin plans to keep a close eye on Huffman's sentencing, given the parallels between their cases as famous actresses.
Authorities say it's the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department, with a total of 51 people charged.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.