Felicity Huffman and 13 other wealthy defendants in the college bribery scam pleaded guilty on Monday and are likely to receive less than a year in prison.
But the other major celebrity name indicted in the affair, actor Lori Loughlin, was not one of those who copped a plea on Monday.
The Full House star and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, have also been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Loughlin, 54, and Mossimo, 55, are two of approximately 50 allegedly involved in a countrywide scam to bribe people at colleges including Yale.
The family is alleged to have paid $500,000 to get around the system and ensure their children places at USC. They’re accused of lying about their children being on rowing teams.
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Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (left in green tie) are yet to enter pleas or make deals with prosecutors. They are shown in court on April 3 in Boston
Huffman and the 13 others who pleaded guilty on Monday could likely receive between four and 10 months in prison, according to Us Weekly.
‘Well, the deal for people who pled out today – they got the best deal possible, former New York State prosecutor Adam Citron told Fox News.
‘It obviously helps that they’re pleading quickly as not to drag out the case and it shows that they’re accountable for their actions and they’re showing remorse.
‘I’m sure in the pre-trial interviews they present themselves as remorseful and they’re already making statements showing remorse.
‘So these are not stupid people – they know how to act to get the best deal and also play to the court to try and get the most lenient sentence possible.
‘Again, even though there was the seven to nine [months of possible prison time], the deal is in that zero to six range – which is the lowest you’re going to get.
‘With Lori Loughlin, it’s unclear and it’s possible that she may have not even been offered anything yet.
‘[Federal prosecutors] could be saying, “We’ll do these fifteen people this week and these people next week for interviews” – or if they’re holding her to an offering not as beneficial with a higher jail sentence.’
But Loughlin and her husband may run the risk of receiving harsher sentences by not agreeing to a plea deal quickly like the others, Citron said.
‘If I was her attorney and she was offered something not as advantageous, my recommendation would be to kind of let the dust settle, let these people plea out and have a couple more news cycles where people start to lose attention to the case,’ Citron said.
‘So that’s very possible, but it’s unclear whether they’ve offered her anything yet or if they’re just waiting to offer her something when they do the next round of people.’
Citron criticized Loughlin after the actor was seen signing autographs for fans after landing at the airport in Boston, where the federal court case is being handled.
‘The optics look horrible for Lori Loughlin,’ he said.
‘The court wants to see that you’re taking this seriously, that you’re remorseful, that you’re accountable for your actions and not treating it like it’s a concert.
‘It’s a very serious proceeding with serious charges with a lot of ramifications…She should not have been treating this like it was a red carpet affair.
‘She feels unquenchable – she’s not taking this seriously.’
The next step in Huffman’s case is a plea hearing which is yet to be set. She will then be sentenced.
The maximum sentence for her charges is 20 years in prison, three years supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
She was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying someone to alter her 18-year-old daughter’s SAT results in December 2017.
In a statement, Huffman said she had ‘betrayed’ her oldest daughter, Sofia, by paying $15,000 to have someone else alter her SAT results to improve her chances of getting into a good school.
Felicity Huffman (pictured at court on April 3) has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud for her role in the scam
Huffman issued this statement on Monday as she agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud
‘I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney’s Office.
‘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.
‘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.
‘My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her.
‘This transgression towards her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life.
‘My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty,’ it read.
It is the first public remark she has made on the scandal since her March arrest.
The 13 others who also agreed to plead guilty are Jane Buckingham, Gordon Caplan, Robert Flaxman, Agustin Huneeus, Marjorie Klapper, Gregory Abbott, Marcia Abbott, Peter Jan Sartorio, Stephen Semprevivo, Devin Sloane and Bruce and Davina Isackson.
Fifty people were charged in total.
Coach Michael Center, 54, of Austin, Texas, who was the head coach of men’s tennis at the University of Texas at Austin, also agreed to plead guilty.
HOW FELICITY CHEATED
Huffman paid $15,000 to have someone alter he daughter Sofia’s SAT scores in December 2017.
It was one of two ways the scheme’s mastermind, Rick Singer, operated.
They planned it over the phone after meeting at her house and their conversations were detailed in the indictment.
‘According to [Singer], he advised Huffman and her spouse that he “controlled” a testing center, and could arrange for a third party to purport to proctor their daughter’s SAT and secretly correct her answers afterwards,’ it read.
Huffman and her husband William H. Macy are shown with their oldest daughter Sofia (left), whose test was the one that was manipulated, and their younger daughter Georgia in January
The test was in West Hollywood and was one of two where Singer had administrators on his payroll.
The first step to achieving their goal was to convince the board to let Sofia sit her exam with extra time, over two days.
That allowed her to take it in the designated test center.
When it was granted, Huffman emailed Singer saying: ‘Hurray! She got it’
They ran into trouble when her school tried to insist on providing their own proctor, something Huffman also described in emails.
‘Ruh Ro! Looks like [my daughter’s high school] wants to provide own proctor,’ she wrote.
They ironed it out and arranged for her to sit the test at their desired location.
Once she was finished with her December 3 test, the ‘proctor’ – Mark Riddell – looked at her exam and changed wrong answers to boost her score.
She achieved a 1420, 400 points more than she had in her practice test.
Sofia is still a teenager and is not thought to have left yet for college.
It is not known where she was planning on applying but schools including USC, the worst afflicted by the scandal, have said they will not allow anyone in that is connected to the indictment.
Huffman’s husband William H. Macy is pictured on Monday in Los Angeles. He was not charged
Macy did not join his wife at her most recent court appearance. He is yet to speak out about the scandal
Huffman paid $15,000 to have someone change Sofia’s answers once she was finished with her SAT exam.
She considered using the scheme again for her younger daughter Georgia but decided against it in February 2018.
Her husband William H. Macy has not been arrested or charged. He did not join her when she made her most recent court appearance.
Instead, she entered the court holding hands with an unidentified man.
Macy was pictured on Los Angeles on Monday while his wife’s intended plea was announced.
The fraudulent scheme was run by Rick Singer, 58.
He collected more than $25million in bribes from parents who were desperate to get their children into prestigious schools.
He either got them in by having someone alter their test answers or, in some cases, sit the entire test for them, or by pretending they were star athletes being recruited for their sporting ability.
To pull it off, he bribed sports coaches at various colleges who went along with fake athletics profiles and college test administrators who looked the other way while the tests were manipulates. He is facing 60 years behind bars.