Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday in Boston to 14 days behind bars for her role in the nationwide college admissions bribery scheme.
The “Desperate Housewives” actress was also ordered to serve a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and pay a fine of $30,000.
Huffman pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying a $15,000 bribe to have a proctor correct her daughter’s answers on a college-entrance exam.
Huffman stood before the judge in Boston federal court and apologized to the court, her daughters and her husband, actor William H. Macy.
The 56-year-old actress, who earned an Oscar nod for “Transamerica,” admitted she could have turned around and gone home instead of driving her daughter to the testing center.
“I am deeply ashamed of what I have done,” Huffman told the judge. “At the end of the day I had a choice to make. I could have said `no.’ I take full responsibility. I will accept whatever punishment you give me.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office had recommended that Huffman be sentenced to one month behind bars. Huffman’s attorneys argued for a year of probation, 250 hours of community service, and a $20,000 fine. Prosecutors suggested in May they would seek as much as four months in prison for Huffman.
About a dozen of Huffman’s friends and relatives attended the hearing, and more than two dozen people submitted letters of support to the court, including Macy — who was not charged — and “Desperate Housewives” co-star Eva Longoria.
Prosecutors wrote that anything less than a jail term would be insufficient, describing Huffman’s conduct as “deliberate and manifestly criminal,” according to the sentencing memorandum.
“In the context of this case, neither probation nor home confinement — in a large home in the Hollywood Hills with an infinity pool — would constitute meaningful punishment or deter others from committing similar crimes,” prosecutors wrote.
Huffman’s “efforts weren’t driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity,” according to the memo.
In her letter to the judge, Huffman wrote that she was driven to participate in the college admission fraud out of “desperation to be a good mother. I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot.”
She added that she sees “the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair” and feels “a deep and abiding shame over what I have done.”
Huffman — the first parent to be sentenced in connection with the case — also wrote of her daughter’s struggles with medical issues and learning disabilities.
In his letter, Macy wrote that his wife’s only interest now is to “make amends and help her daughters heal and move on.”
“Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges in the scandal.
Dozens of parents and college athletic coaches were implicated in the nationwide bribery scandal, in which wealthy parents paid Newport Beach businessman William Rick Singer thousands of dollars to have their children’s entrance-exam scores doctored. In other cases, students were falsely admitted to elite universities as athletic recruits, even though they never had any experience in the sports for which they were being recruited, prosecutors said.
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