Felicity Huffman to plead guilty in college admissions cheating case

Guardian staff and agencies

Felicity Huffman has agreed to plead guilty in the college admissions cheating scandal, the biggest celebrity name so far to admit to her involvement in the scheme. Court documents made public on Monday show that 12 other prominent parents, in addition to Huffman, will also plead guilty in the case.

The actor, 56, was accused of paying a consultant $15,000 to have a proctor boost her older daughter’s SAT score in order to ease her way into college. Authorities say the actor also discussed going through with the same plan for her younger daughter, but she ultimately decided not to.

Other parents charged in the scheme include prominent figures in law, finance, fashion, the food and beverage industry and other fields.

It’s the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

The scandal embroiled elite universities across the country and laid bare the lengths to which status-seeking parents will go to secure their children a coveted spot.

The consultant, Rick Singer, met with Huffman and her husband, 69-year-old actor William H Macy, at their Los Angeles home and explained to them he “controlled” a testing center and could have somebody secretly change their daughter’s answers, authorities said. Singer told investigators Huffman and her husband agreed to the plan. Macy was not charged although the authorities have not said why.

Huffman will plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest-services mail fraud, according to court documents made public on Monday.

In her first public comments since her arrest last month, she apologized and said she accepts full responsibility for her actions and “will accept the consequences”. Huffman said in a statement that her daughter did not know about her actions. She said her desire to help her daughter was “no excuse to break the law”.

Huffman and TV actor Lori Loughlin had appeared in federal court in Boston last Wednesday afternoon, to face charges that they participated in a wide-ranging college admissions cheating scam that has rocked the US.

The actors, along with Loughlin’s fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli and dozens of others, were charged last month in a scheme in which authorities say parents paid an admissions consultant to bribe college coaches and rig test scores to get their children into elite universities.

Huffman was among 50 people charged in what authorities have described as the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the justice department.

Loughlin and Giannulli are not among those who’ve agreed to plead guilty and haven’t publicly addressed the allegations.

Earlier on Monday, Stanford University in California announced it had expelled a student who lied about her sailing credentials in her application, which was linked to the college admission bribery scandal.

The university wrote that it had rescinded the student’s admission in a short statement posted on its website on 2 April after determining “some of the material in the student’s application is false”.

The statement added: “The student is no longer on campus.”

University officials previously said the student was admitted without the recommendation of former Stanford sailing coach John Vandemoer, who pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for helping students get into the elite university. They said a $500,000 contribution to the sailing program was made several months after the student was admitted.

The Stanford Daily first reported on Sunday that the student had been expelled.