Star Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in jail on Friday for her role in the college admissions scandal, after federal prosecutors argued that some period of imprisonment was required to send out a message that privileged parents would be “similarly based on the law regardless of wealth or position.”
Huffman, 56, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to dedicate mail fraud and sincere services mail fraud for paying $15,000 to have a proctor remedy her eldest child’s SAT responses in2017 In federal court in Boston on Friday, Huffman cried as she apologized to her daughter, who she states was not mindful of the cheating plan.
” I was terrified. I was foolish, and I was so incorrect. I am deeply ashamed of what I have done,” Huffman said, according to the Associated Press. “I have caused more damage than I might ever imagine. I now see all the things that led me down this roadway, however ultimately none of the reasons matter due to the fact that at the end of the day I had an option. I might have stated no.”
Huffman had actually thought about pursuing the same scheme for her younger daughter, but eventually chosen against it.
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Federal district attorneys argued that imprisonment was “the only significant sanction for these crimes,” and had actually asked that Huffman get a one-month prison sentence and $20,000 fine. Rather, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced her to 14 days in prison, 250 hours of community service, a year of supervised release and a fine of $30,000
Huffman is the first of more than 30 moms and dads to be sentenced for their role in facilitating unfaithful and paying off athletic coaches to get their children into elite schools. In the months because prosecutors announced criminal charges versus 51 individuals, observers had questioned whether any of the defendants would serve time in jail. In June, former Stanford cruising coach John Vandemoer, the very first individual associated with the scandal to be sentenced, got no prison time.
One complicating element has actually been a legal argument over whether any victim suffered a monetary loss as an outcome of the bribery plan– which could impact how lax the sentences are. Federal probation officers, in dispute with district attorneys, concluded in a report this week that there was no victim of Huffman’s crime.
In a letter to Talwani recently, Huffman said there was “no validation for what I have done,” however explained that her “desperation to be a great mother” drove her to meddle with her child’s test score.
” I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was providing my child a fair shot. I see the irony in that declaration now since what I have done is the reverse of fair,” she wrote. “I have broken the law, deceived the academic community, betrayed my child, and failed my household.”
The charges against Huffman and other moms and dads– amidst anticipation that they may get lax sentences– have fueled conversations about racial and socioeconomic inequality in the criminal justice system and fairness in college, as those accused of bribing their way into elite schools likewise had access to legal benefits, including personal tutors, expensive college therapists and powerful connections.
Throughout the sentencing hearing, Talwani reprimanded Huffman for trying to “get one more advantage” in the college admissions procedure, a system “currently so misshaped by money and opportunity.”
District attorneys referenced the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, a mom in Akron, Ohio who was founded guilty in 2011 on felony charges related to registering her children for public school under their grandpa’s address in a better district. She was sentenced to 10 days in prison, three years of probation, and fined $70,000 Her conviction was later decreased to a misdemeanor by then-Gov. John Kasich.
” I was a divorced mama, a black mother, residing in an inner-city, just trying to make my way, attempting to go to college, attempting to start over again, and the justice system didn’t have any mercy on that at all,” Williams-Bolar told TIME today “The justice system is not just for everyone.”
Huffman’s sentence offers some insight into what other offenders in the admissions scandal can anticipate as their cases proceed. Talwani kept in mind that Huffman did not include her kid in the rip-off and paid a smaller sized allurement than many other moms and dads, however she concurred “there need to be some incarceration imposed.”
” The reality that the judge chose to send among, arguably, the least culpable offenders to some prison time will let [other defendants] know that probation may not remain in the cards,” states Doug Berman, a Moritz College of Law teacher who studies criminal sentencing.
Several accuseds– including Capacity star Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, accused of paying $500,000 to have their children designated as crew team hires at the University of Southern California– have pleaded innocent and are planning to continue to trial.
They could confront 40 years in jail if convicted.
” One constantly faces a longer prison term if convicted after a trial, maintaining their resistance and revealing no regret,” Berman states. “I make sure there are defense lawyers recommending customers who have not yet pled guilty that it’s not too late.”
Compose to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com