UPDATE, 10:54 PM: A guilty-pleading Felicity Huffman will soon have what could be one of her final days in court in the elite schools admission scandal.
A May 21 plea hearing has been set for the Desperate Housewives actor in the wide spread and ongoing probe into wealthy parents paying to get their kids into top colleges under false athletic pretense or false exam scores.
Having declared that she is guilty of the conspiracy charge that federal prosecutors hit the Emmy winner with last month, Huffman expressed “shame” and “deep regret” earlier this week. Now, the actor will stand in front of U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani next month in Boston in clear hopes of avoiding the maximum sentence of 20 years she’s facing.
As Deadline reported last week, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts are pretty stuck on seeing Huffman and other parents snared in the Operation Varsity Blues investigation serve some time behind bars.
The timing of Huffman’s upcoming hearing has been set in part because the actor’s top lawyer Martin Murphy couldn’t make it on the originally considered date of May 24.
PREVIOUSLY, APRIL 8 PM: Facing a potential sentence of 20 years behind bars, Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty today in the college bribery scheme.
Law enforcement plans to push for some prison time for the American Crime actor, sources tell Deadline, as we reported exclusively last week.
While When Calls the Heart and Full House star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Massimo Giannulli have not entered a plea yet, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts also unveiled Monday that Jane Buckingham, founder and CEO of founder of the Beverly Hills-based boutique marketing firm Trendera, also put a guilty plea in the federal docket.
In total, 14 of the 33 parents indicted in the nationwide conspiracy on March 12 entered pleas today, the feds say. Like Loughlin and Giannulli, Huffman most recently was in court for a preliminary hearing April 4 in Boston. Neither entered a plea then nor was expected too.
Unlike the initial arraignment in L.A. on March 12, which saw the arrested Desperate Housewives star released on bail of $250,000 and stringent travel restrictions, Huffman’s husband William H. Macy did not attend the Beantown hearing.
The indictments made public on March 12 saw 50 people charged in the $25 million nationwide scam by William Singer and his phony Key Worldwide Foundation. They promised to fast-track the kids of the wealthy including Huffman and Loughlin to top schools with fake athletic credentials or phony SAT scores.
Among the well-heeled parents arrested, Huffman and Loughlin are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, according to the unsealed indictment. The elite schools caught up in the scandal are USC, UCLA, Yale Georgetown, Stanford, University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest University.
Huffman “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter,” according to the lengthy March 6 indictment (read it here). The CAA-repped Huffman also paid an undisclosed sum to an individual who “controlled” a Los Angeles SAT testing center to fix her daughter’s incorrect exam answers. That effort led to a massive increase in the daughter’s test score and consequently admission to a top college.
Singer and several coaches from top schools entered guilty pleas last. The former call-center manager is said to be cooperating fully with authorities in a ongoing probe that is expected to see more high-profile indictments and perhaps even charges from the IRS.
Two other entertainment-related defendants in the case – former TPG Growth CEO and managing partner Bill McGlashan and Elisabeth Kimmel, owner and president of Midwest Television — were not among those pleading guilty today.
Since the indictments, McGlashan — a co-founder of STX Entertainment and Evolution Media – has resigned from TPG and The Rise Fund, its $2 billion impact-investment platform he co-founded with U2’s Bono, Richard Branson and others.
Kimmel, whose company sold the CBS-affiliated San Diego radio and TV outlets KFMB to Tenga last year, also worked as a litigation associate at Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, the law firm whose specialties include movie, TV and music deals.
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