Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman facing prison for exam cheating scandal

Adam Silverstein, Justin Harp
Photo credit: Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images

From Digital Spy

Update 13/5/19: Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman will face prison time after admitting her guilt in the US university exam cheating scandal.

The Emmy winner appeared in a Boston court on Monday (May 13) to formally plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as part of a larger scheme to get her daughter into university (via TMZ).

During the hearing, the US attorney announced that Huffman had agreed to a plea deal that included a fine of $20,000 and a four-to-ten month prison sentence. Prosecutors have specifically suggested a four-month term.

Photo credit: Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images

As part of the plea, the US attorney's office agreed not to pursue money laundering charges. Huffman will be formally sentenced on September 13.

Huffman is one of 24 people to have take plea deals in the sting operation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. Last month, Huffman released a statement announcing her intentions to plead guilty to her charges, admitting she felt "deep regret and shame" for her actions and accepted "full responsibility".

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Update 8/4/19: Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman has publicly apologised for being part of an exam cheating scandal that led to the arrest of more than 30 parents and 9 coaches.

Huffman released a statement on Monday to confirm that she'd be one of 14 people expected to plead guilty for their involvement. In her specific case, Huffman is alleged to have paid $15,000 to get her daughters extra time on their university entrance exams.

"I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney's Office," she said today. "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."

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The actress went on: "I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologise 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 toward 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 is not immediately clear if Full House star Lori Loughlin - who was also arrested in connection with the scandal - will contest the charge or take a plea deal as well.

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Original 13/3/19: Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman and Full House star Lori Loughlin are among more than 40 people charged in a US college cheating scam.

The alleged scheme, uncovered by the FBI, involved helping students cheat on entrance exams, as well as getting non-athletic students admitted on fake athletic scholarships, to elite schools like Yale, Stanford and Georgetown. There's no suggestion that the schools were involved.

Huffman, who has two daughters with actor husband William H Macy, has been accused of paying $15,000 (£11,000) disguised as a charitable donation to 'participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter', according to court papers.

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She allegedly considered using the scheme for a second time, for her younger daughter, but decided not to.

Huffman has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. After appearing in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday (March 12), she was released on $250,000 bail.

Macy, who also attended court, was not indicted. However, the court papers allege that he agreed to the scam with Huffman.

Photo credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic - Getty Images

Lori Loughlin, best known for starring in Full House and its sequel Fuller House, was among those indicted but has not yet been taken into custody.

At a news conference about the investigation known as 'Operation Varsity Blues' on Tuesday, US Attorney Andrew Lelling said: "These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege.

"For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected."

Huffman starred as Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives from 2004 to 2012, and won an Emmy for the role.

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