NEW YORK — American actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty on Monday for paying bribes to help her daughter gain admission to a prestigious university, avoiding what was sure to be a well-publicised trial and probably also dodging jail time.
The former Desperate Housewives star was the latest celebrity brought down by the wide-ranging college bribery scandal that’s snared a slew of wealthy American parents.
In a tearful appearance before federal judge Indira Talwani in Boston, Huffman pled guilty to paying US$15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.
The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, but by admitting guilt Huffman will likely avoid those penalties.
Federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence of a year’s probation and a $20,000 fine, though the judge can modify the penalty if she pleases.
Huffman announced her intention to plead guilty last month, saying she was “ashamed” of what she had done. Sentencing is scheduled for September 13, US attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said.
Among the 50 people charged in the admissions scandal – a group that includes CEOs and partners at major law firms – 10 have already pled guilty, including five parents.
Another 10 parents have said they will also plead guilty in the scandal that saw some of the accused pay as much as $400,000 to get their children into their chosen college.
The ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities. — AFP