The sentencing date for the Desperate Housewives star came as a sometimes tearful Huffman formally entered a plea of guilty after making a deal with the feds.
Though the judge ultimately has discretion over what Huffman’s sentence is, lawyers for the government today told a federal judge in Boston that they want the American Crime actors to serve around four months behind bars.
Going for the low end of sentencing guidelines and in relatively welcoming news to Huffman, Eric Rosen, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, on Monday also told U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani that the feds also want the actor to have one-year of supervised release and pay around $20,000 in fines.
Huffman was in the John Joseph Moakley courthouse for the second time since being arrested on March 12 for dropping $15,000 to ex-call center manager William Singer and his phony Key Worldwide Foundation to get her eldest daughter into a top college surreptitiously with inflated test scores.
Compared to a number of the indicted wealthy parents and the $500,000 that Fuller House’s Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli paid to get their two non-rowing daughters into USC as recruits to the USC crew team, Huffman’s payout was on the low end of the spectrum – and hence the relatively light recommendation by prosecutors today.
Arrested on March 12 with over 30 other parents for the illegal move to get their kids into good colleges, Huffman made a deal with the government last month to plead guilty for a reduce sentence. Initially, the feds seemed to be pushing for something like a year of prison time. Huffman and her legal team desired a sentence of 0 – 6 months.
As Huffman formally entered her guilty plea this afternoon and the two sides seemed to meet in the middle, the majority of Huffman’s utterances in court Monday were a series of “yes, your honor,” as Judge Talwani asked the actor if she understood what the process was and her role in it.
However, as the hearing progressed, the actor broke down in tears before the judge.
Huffman was agitated because she didn’t want prosecutors, the judge or others to think that a doctor her eldest daughter has been seeing frequently for years had knowledge of the illegal scheme. The mother of two was also adamant that her daughter herself did not know abut the money paid in the effort to get her into a good college or her falsely raised test scores.
“I didn’t want to give the impression the neuropsychologist knew about this,” an emotional Huffman said, according to witnesses in the courtroom. “Everything else they say I did, I did,” the actor added.
Several other well-heeled parents picked up in the year-long “Operation Varsity Blues” investigation also entered pleas of guilty today. Loughlin and Giannnulli were not in court today
Apparently refusing a deal with prosecutors, the couple entered a not guilty plea on April 29. The duo next has an initial status conference coming up on June 3.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:44 AM: In mere minutes from now, Felicity Huffman will step forward in a federal courtroom in Boston and formally enter a guilty plea in the on-going “Operation Varsity Blues” elite schools admission scheme.
With sentencing likely to follow in about three to four months, the now single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud that the American Crime star admitted to in early April will see the prosecuting U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts ask for jail time of just under a year for Huffman, plus tens of thousands in fines and about 12 months probation.
Coming nearly two months after Oscar nominee Huffman was arrested at her L.A. home by the FBI and federal prosecutors and a month after the once Desperate Housewives actor struck a deal with the government for a recommended reduced sentence, that plea before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani closes the first phase of the convoluted high-profile case.
Though Huffman’s late March guilty plea deal with the government (read it here) prohibits any appeal of her sentence once it is issued by a judge, lawyers for the actor are expected to argue before then that any time behind bars should be under six months.
No longer looking at the potential of 20-years in the big house that the original indictment contained and publicly proclaiming her “deep regret and shame” last month, Huffman arrived at the courthouse about 90 minutes ago. As with her most recent court appearance in Boston, the actor was not accompanied by her unindicted husband and Shameless star William H. Macy.
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. The ex-call center manager promised to grease the admission process with bogus athletic credentials and inflate the SAT scores of the children of the paying wealthy. Huffman, along with once Full House star Lori Loughlin and her spouse fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli were among the 33 well-off parents across the nation that were indicted in March.
Though suffering career repercussions, once Hallmark Channel superstar Loughlin has not taken a government plea deal and entered a plea of not guilty, as did Giannulli, on April 15. The couple are alleged to have paid out “bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” said the feds in the March indictment
According to the same lengthy March 6 indictment, Huffman “made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter.”
The still CAA-represented Huffman also put hand in pocket to pay 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 what should have been a red flag waving 400 points increase in the daughter’s test score and consequently admission to a top college.
At the time Huffman was facing up to 20-years of incarceration from the charges, as she was informed in mid-March in a DTLA courtroom by U.S. Magistrate Judge Alexander F. MacKinnon. With Macy sitting nearby that day and a flood of the couple’s personal financial information openly discussed, Huffman was released on $250,000 bail bond and restrictions on her travel.
With a number of projects on Netflix launching this year, the streaming service last month pushed back the Huffman-starring comedy Otherhood from its late April debut to August. However, Huffman will still be seen soon in the May 31 premiering Ava DuVernay directed and partially penned When They See Us limited series about the late-1980s institutional stitching up of the young men of color who became known as the Central Park Five. Huffman plays Linda Fairstein, the former chief of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan D.A. in the four-parter.
Though picked up on wiretaps by the feds and mentioned by the co-operating and now singing like a canary Singer, Bill Macy has not been charged, yet.
We’ll update with more from today’s hearing throughout the day.