Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty Monday — then broke down crying in court — to paying $15,000 to a fake charity that facilitated cheating when her daughter took the SATs for college admission.
When she appeared in federal court in Boston, prosecutors recommended a sentence of four months prison time for the “Desperate Housewives” TV star for her role in the college admissions scandal. They also suggested a $20,000 fine and 12 months of supervised release for the charge, which is a felony.
She will be sentenced September 13.
The charity was associated with Rick Singer, who has confessed to helping wealthy parents cheat on standardized tests for their children. Singer also bribed college coaches to falsely designate students as recruited athletes, smoothing their path to admission, a criminal complaint says.
“I had no knowledge of Mr. Singer paying (others),” Huffman said Monday before crying. “Everything else (prosecutors) said I did, I did.”
Huffman and Singer exchanged emails on how to provide her daughter with extra time to take the SAT exam, prosecutors said, and arranged for the girl to take the test in a location controlled by an administrator whom Singer had bribed.
Huffman’s daughter received an SAT score of 1420 out of a possible 1600 — about 400 points higher than her Preliminary SAT exam a year earlier.
Huffman later discussed the scheme in a recorded phone call with Singer, prosecutors had said.
Huffman, 56, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in April. She was among 13 parents who have said they would plead guilty in the scam.
“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,” Huffman said in a statement in early April.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. 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,” the Emmy award-winning actress said in the April statement.
Seventeen other parents, including actress Lori Loughlin, submitted not guilty pleas.
Singer pleaded guilty in March to racketeering, money laundering; conspiracy to defraud the US, and obstruction of justice. He is scheduled to be sentenced September 19.
Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, is not charged in the case.