DUBLIN, CA — Actress Felicity Huffman reported to Dublin’s federal prison Tuesday to begin a two-week sentence stemming from her guilty plea last month in a college admissions cheating scandal. Huffman’s attorney had requested the actress be allowed to serve her time at Dublin’s all-women, low-security Federal Correctional Institution on 8th Street, according to a CNN report.
“Felicity Huffman reported today for sentencing to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, CA,” her representative said in a statement released to media. After she’s released she’ll serve a year on probation and perform the required 250 hours of community service, the statement said.
The “Desperate Housewives” star admitted paying $15,000 to help her daughter, Sophia, obtain fake SAT scores for admission to college. Huffman also was fined $30,000.
“I was stupid, and I was so wrong,” Huffman told Judge Indira Talwani in a Boston federal court last month. Clearing her throat and at times choking back tears, she told the judge, “I am deeply ashamed for what I have done. I have inflicted more damage than I could ever have imagined.”
The college bribery scandal involved several other high-profile people and is the biggest of its kind in U.S. history, drawing national attention and putting a spotlight on the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to secure their children admission to elite universities.
Huffman said her daughter didn’t know about the scheme that involved securing extended time for her daughter to take the SAT and arranging for her to take the exam at a test center in West Hollywood “controlled” by Rick Singer, her daughter’s tutor. Huffman paid for the scheme by making a purported contribution of $15,000 to Singer’s sham charity, Key Worldwide Foundation.
During her apology, Huffman said she remembered driving to the testing center, her daughter in the passenger seat, nervous about the test and asking if they could get ice cream afterward.
“I kept thinking: ‘Turn around, turn around.’ To my eternal shame, I didn’t,” she said breaking down. She said one of the hardest aspects of her decision was facing her daughter after the scandal broke.
“I am so sorry Sophia,” Huffman said, before addressing the judge again. “I will deserve whatever punishment you give me.”
Talwani said this did not absolve her.
“Trying to be a good mother doesn’t excuse this,” Talwani said. “You knew what you were doing was wrong.”
The judge said a wealthy person is in a much easier position in the college admissions process, and though she wasn’t sentencing Huffman based on what the greater scandal uncovered, it is with that background that she considered the case. She said Huffman’s history of having a moral compass impacted the sentencing.
“She gave one of the two smallest bribes, she was not a repeat player, she did not involve her child … but we also know she knew what she was doing was wrong, and she did take many steps to facilitate the scheme,” the judge said.
Talwani said Huffman should perform community service directed at one-on-one interactions, rather than trading on her fame for an organization.
“The outrage is a system that is already so distorted by money and privilege in the first place. With some children having individual tutoring and counseling. .. food and a roof over your head…,” she said. “In that context … you took the step of obtaining one more advantage to put your child ahead of others.”
Talwani said she agreed Huffman needed to be imprisoned as a deterrent to others, but not for the 30 days prosecutors had recommended. She then sentenced Huffman to the two-week prison term followed by probation, along with the fine and community service hours.
“Without this sentence I think you would be looking at a future with the community around you asking why you got away with this,” Talwani said.
Huffman stood to hear the sentencing, and then sat back down. Someone came up to her and held her shoulders. Huffman walked out of court hand in hand with her husband, Actor William Macy, but neither she nor her attorneys made comments to reporters.
—Patch staffer Jenna Fisher contributed to this report.