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What will happen to Felicity Huffman now she has pleaded guilty in the college admissions case?

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Felicity Huffman

After pleading guilty to paying a bribe to secure a college place for her daughter, the Desperate Housewives star could soon be facing jail time.

Rarely has a legal case gripped the world more than the college admissions scandal.

A brace of more than 50 parents stand accused of paying phenomenal sums of money to a third party organisation in order to secure positions at top universities for their children. One of them, a Chinese father whose daughter was accepted into Stanford University, paid $6.5 million in order to ensure his child’s prestigious school. But the two accused parents who have received the most coverage are Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Huffman was accused of a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud on account of her payment of $15,000 to have the answers on her daughter Sophia Macy’s SAT test checked and corrected. Today, on 14 May, Huffman tearfully pleaded guilty in a Boston court. 

Felicity Huffman
Felicity Huffman enters court to plead guilty in the college admissions scandal.

This guilty plea could result in jail time for the Desperate Housewives and When They See Us star. According to the BBC, the judge will be recommended to award four months of jail time in sentencing. This is the lowest amount of recommended jail time for the crime of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which could carry up to 20 years as a penalty. Sentencing will take place on 13 September.

Huffman’s bribe of $15,000 ensured that her daughter Sophia had her SAT score increased to 1420/1600, a 400 point increase from an earlier test she had taken. It was enough to secure her a place at university. Huffman and her husband William H Macy also corresponded with William Singer, the organiser of the college admissions scandal, to procure a doctored SAT test for their younger daughter before changing their minds. Despite this, Macy was not charged in the scandal. 

“The bottom line on Marcy was that he seemed to have been less involved in the conduct,” lawyer Rebecca Roiphe told The New York Times. “There is no doubt that the conduct could have been charged, but prosecutors use their discretion all the time, and decide not to charge somebody because they consider it either unfair or not worth their resources.” 

Of all the names charged in the scandal, Huffman’s payment was the lowest. Full House’s Loughlin, on the other hand, paid $500,000 in bribes for their two daughters to receive admission into the University of Southern California. Loughlin’s elder daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, a successful college influencer, has deleted her popular Instagram account since the news broke. 

Lori Loughlin arrives at court to plead not guilty in the college admissions scandal.

Loughlin and her husband, fashion entrepreneur Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty to the charges. If found guilty, both could face between four years and nine months and 20 years in prison. 

A timeline of the college admissions scandal 

12 March: 50 people are charged in ‘Operation Varsity Blues’, the FBI’s investigation into the college admissions bribery scandal.

3-8 April: Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin appear in court for the first time on their charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Huffman enters a guilty plea.

9 April: Loughlin and Giannulli are charged with additional counts of money laundering. With these new charges, the pair face up to 20 years of jail time.

15 April: Loughlin and Giannulli plead not guilty.

18 April: Loughlin’s daughter Isabella Jade is informed that federal prosecutors may begin investigating her. 

7 May: Variety announces that a television series based on the college admissions scandal, titled Accepted, will be released by Annapurna TV and written by DV DeVincentis, the man who created The People vs OJ Simpson.

14 May: Huffman officially appears before a Boston court to plead guilty in front of a judge. 

“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 these actions,” Huffman said in a statement. “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the education community. I want to apologize to them and especially, I want to apologise 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.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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