Felicity Huffman: Desperate Housewives star could face month in jail over admissions scam

7 September 2019, 09:14 | Updated: 7 September 2019, 14:05

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman has revealed her "deep and abiding shame" after admitting taking part in a college admissions cheating scheme.

In a letter to a judge on Friday, the 56-year-old actress also described her "desperation to be a good mother".

She said her daughter has a diagnosed learning disability and struggles with maths.

"I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot," Huffman wrote to US District Judge Indira Talwani.

"I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair.

"I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family."

Her husband, actor William Macy, and her Desperate Housewives co-star Eva Longoria also submitted letters of support to the federal court in Boston.

Macy said Huffman has rarely left the house and has not received an audition or job offer since her arrest six months ago.

The Fargo star said their oldest daughter is taking a gap year and not attending college for now, and that the family, which also includes a younger daughter in high school, is seeing a therapist together.

"Felicity's only interest now is figuring out how to make amends and help her daughters heal and move on," he wrote.

Longoria described Huffman as a "gentle character" who "always leads with her heart and has always put others first".

Huffman in May pleaded guilty to fraud charges for paying an admissions consultant $15,000 (£12,208) to have an invigilator boost her daughter Sofia's SAT score.

Court documents said Huffman had paid the money disguised as a charitable donation.

She previously said in a statement that she accepted responsibility and "will accept the consequences that stem from those actions".

Prosecutors have recommended the Emmy-winning actress is sentenced to 30 days in jail, followed by a year on probation, 250 hours community service and a $20,000 (£16,277) fine.

US Attorney Andrew Lelling argued Huffman knew the scheme was wrong and took part in it anyway.

"Her efforts weren't driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity," his office wrote in a letter to the court.

"Millions of parents send their kids to college every year. All of them care as much she does about their children's fortunes. But they don't buy fake SAT scores and joke about it ('Ruh Ro!') along the way."

Huffman used the Scooby-Doo catchphrase in an email after her daughter's high school tried to make her take the exam with its own proctor instead of one preferred by the consultant she was paying.

Her lawyers said she should not be sent to prison and argued for probation, community service and a fine instead.

They said fraud cases involving standardised tests "almost always" result in probation and that incarceration is "exceptionally rare."

Huffman is one of 51 people accused of taking part in the scheme, including actress Lori Loughlin, who starred in the TV series Full House.

Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are charged with paying $500,000 (£406,982) for their two daughters to get into college. They are fighting the allegations made against them.

It is claimed that wealthy parents paid a total of $25m (£20m) to bribe coaches to help their children get into universities including Yale and Georgetown.