Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced Friday to 14 days in prison for paying thousands of dollars to have her daughter's test scores changed, a discovery made during a federal investigation into widespread cheating in college admissions.
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The “Desperate Housewives” actress stayed silent as she walked hand-in-hand with her husband, William H. Macy, into the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston, for her 2:30 p.m. sentencing before Judge Indira Talwani.
Huffman pleaded guilty in May to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for paying $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT scores fixed in 2017. Macy was not named in court papers.
The star and mom of two was arrested in March. Authorities leading the investigation dubbed "Varsity Blues" said she paid a designated person to proctor her daughter’s exam in December 2017, then change her answers to improve the score.
Nearly 50 other people, including “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion-designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were also charged in the sweeping investigation.
On Sept. 4, Huffman wrote a letter to Talwani begging her to “shed light on how I finally got to the day when I said “Yes” to this scheme.”
“In my desperation to be a good mother I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot,” Huffman wrote. “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.”
Federal prosecutors asked that Huffman be sentenced to one month behind bars, a year of supervised release and a $20,000 fine. Huffman’s defense requested 250 hours of community service, a $20,000 fine and one-year probation.
On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen said all parents wanted "the best" for their children -- "to give them an edge" -- but Huffman had no "moral compass."
"With all due respect, welcome to parenthood. It's terrifying and stressful," Rosen said. "What parenthood does not do, it does not make you a felon. Doesn't make you a cheat."
Huffman's attorney, Martin Murphy argued that Huffman had the opportunity to commit the crime a second time, but opted not to.
"She said it just didn't seem right," Murphy said. "That was a litmus test of her character."
Huffman sobbed as she addressed the court.
"I am deeply ashamed of what I have done," she said, through tears. "I have done more damage than I could ever imagine. I realize now with my mothering that love and truth go hand in hand."
In addition to the jail time, the judge imposed a $30,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and one year of probation.
In a statement released immediately following her sentencing, Huffman said she accepted the judge's decision.
"I would like to apologize again to my daughter, my husband, my family and the educational community for my actions," she added. "And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children."
Read Huffman's full letter to Talwani: