Federal court records unsealed Tuesday in Boston name 50 people as part of an alleged nationwide college admissions scam, including Felicity Huffman and Jane Buckingham

By Dave Quinn
March 13, 2019 09:45 AM
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Felicity Huffman has a connection to one of the other wealthy parents accused in the college admissions bribery scam.

Back in May 2010, the Desperate Housewives actress, 56, attended a book launch event for Beverly Hills-based marketing CEO and author Jane Buckingham, 50 — who was also indicted in Tuesday’s headline-making scandal.

Both women were photographed together at the party, held at the Soho House in Los Angeles. They appeared to be close, hugging and smiling.

The book that Huffman was helping celebrate was Buckingham’s The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations. Described on Amazon as “a helpful handbook for surviving headaches, pickles, jams, and everyday emergencies,” the book was the third in a series of “Modern Girl” advice publications Buckingham penned. Others included The Modern Girl's Guide to Life and The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood (both released in 2009).

Jane Buckingham Book Launch for 'The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations', Soho House, Los Angeles, America - 11 May 2010
Credit: Evans Ward/Bei/REX/Shutterstock

Buckingham, 50, is the president of boutique marketing and media consulting firm Trendera, which lists numerous Fortune 500 companies as clients. As an author, she’s written six books and had pieces published in Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Her Harper Collins author bio boasts that she was once named by Elle as “one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood.”

She’s spent time in front of the camera as well, with appearances on The View, Today, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes and The Oprah Winfrey Show. From 2005 to 2006, Buckingham hosted the Style Network’s series The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life (based on her book). And in 2015, she led an ABC Family series titled Job or No Job — in which she guided three young hopefuls as they navigated the career interview process and helped them land their dream gigs.

Now divorced from bestselling business author Marcus Buckingham, she’s the mother of two children: son Jack and daughter Lilia.

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Jane Buckingham
| Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

Federal court records unsealed Tuesday in Boston name 50 people as part of the alleged nationwide scheme, including Buckingham, Huffman and Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin.

According to the criminal complaint documents, Buckingham allegedly conspired with indicted plot organizer William Singer to have a professional test taker from Florida take the ACT for her son in July 2018. In exchange for his services, Buckingham agreed to make a $50,000 “charitable donation.”

“I know this is craziness, I know it is,” she wrote to Singer, in a conversation outlined in court papers. “I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.”

Documents also show Buckingham sending a handwriting sample from her son, so that the test taker could mimic his penmanship. “He has not great writing,” Buckingham said, “Good luck with this.”

While it is not clear where Buckingham’s son went to college, he allegedly received a score of 35 on the exam, according to documents. Buckingham was happy with the results and told the adviser, “[I’d] probably like to do the same thing with [my daughter].”

A rep for Buckingham did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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Jane Buckingham
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Huffman allegedly gave $15,000 “to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter,” according to the indictment in the case.

It’s said that federal agents secretly recorded telephone calls with Huffman and a cooperating witness, which allegedly showed Huffman agreeing to pay the large sum of money in order to help Sofia, 18, get a higher SAT score.

Huffman was arrested by armed FBI agents at her Los Angeles home on Tuesday and charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was released more than 12 hours later — freed on a $250,000 bond, according to the Associated Press, and ordered to hand over her passport.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Huffman’s husband William H. Macy remained by her side. As the judge read off the charges against his wife, Macy, 69, reportedly sat with his head down around families of other defendants, according to Deadline.

Her next preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 29 at a Boston court, Deadline reported.

A rep for Huffman did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

It’s unclear if the children were aware of the scheme.

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William H. Macy, Grace Macy, Felicity Huffman and Sophia Macy
| Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

In addition to parents and exam administrators, athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California, Wake Forest and Georgetown (among others) are also implicated in the scheme.

The widespread effort was made by wealthy families to get their children into top colleges by falsifying SAT scores, lying about their athletic skills, and more, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.

Some individuals named in the court documents allegedly paid bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into these elite colleges, according to federal prosecutors.

Admissions to the schools mentioned in the complaint are extremely competitive: For first-time, full-time undergraduates, only 5 percent of applicants get into Stanford, 7 percent get into Yale, 17 percent get into Georgetown, 18 percent get into the University of Southern California and 29 percent get into Wake Forest, according to the U.S. Department of Education.