The actress has pleaded guilty to her role in the college admissions scandal

By Steve Helling Juliet Pennington
May 13, 2019 03:46 PM

Prosecutors have recommended that Felicity Huffman spend four months in jail as part of a plea agreement in the high-profile college admissions cheating scandal.

The Desperate Housewives actress appeared in court on Monday to officially plead guilty in the case. Arriving nearly two hours early, she was wearing a dark coat and gray pleated dress. Holding hands with her brother, she had a somber expression as she entered the courthouse.

Huffman, 56, paid $15,000 to admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer and his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (“KWF”), which prosecutors said was actually a front for accepting bribes. Singer then facilitated cheating on Huffman’s oldest daughter’s SAT test by having a proctor correct the teen’s answers after the fact. 

For the scheme to work, the venue of Huffman’s daughter’s SAT was changed from her high school to another location, which required a note from a neuropsychologist. While addressing Judge Indira Talwani, Huffman broke down in tears explaining that her daughter had been seeing a neuropsychologist since the age of eight and had been receiving extra time on exams since she was 11. The request to change the venue, Huffman said, was made in earnest and not as part of the scheme.

Huffman reiterated that her daughter knew nothing about the scam, and on Monday told Judge Talwani, “The neuropsychologist had no part of this.”

After becoming emotional while discussing her daughter, Huffman paused for a full minute before continuing to address the judge.

Felicity Huffman
Steven Senne/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Under her plea deal, Huffman is prohibited from running for office, owning a firearm and ammunition, and faces other restrictions.

She told the judge that she understood the terms of her plea deal. The judge then reminded the actress that she would be waiving her right to stand trial if she pleaded guilty.

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Huffman has agreed not to appeal any prison decision up to 20 years. In return, the government is recommending that she receive a punishment near the lower-end of the sentencing guidelines of 4 to 10 months.

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In addition to four months in prison, prosecutors recommended Huffman pay a $20,000 fine. She will be sentenced on Sept. 13.

On March 12, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced it had charged 50 people, including Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in the cheating scandal. The two actresses, along with coaches, admissions counselors, parents, and Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer J. Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of such alleged crimes as falsifying SAT scores and lying about the athletic skills of their children.

In April, Huffman agreed to plead guilty, saying, “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.”

“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community,” she continued. “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.”

Huffman did not comment to reporters while leaving the courthouse. Attorneys for Huffman have not returned PEOPLE’s calls for comment.

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