US actress gets prison term in college admissions scam

Felicity Huffman paid a $20,600 bribe to rig her daughter’s SAT scores.

BOSTON • Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman has been sentenced to 14 days in prison over a US$15,000 (S$20,600) bribe to rig her daughter's SAT scores, tearfully apologising to the teenager for not trusting her to get into college on her own.

"I was frightened, I was stupid, and I was so wrong," Huffman, 56, said on Friday as she became the first parent sentenced in a college admissions scandal that ensnared dozens of rich and well-connected mothers and fathers across the United States.

The scandal exposed the lengths to which parents will go to get their children into the "right" schools and reinforced suspicions the college admissions process is slanted towards the rich.

In sentencing Huffman, US District Judge Indira Talwani noted the outrage the case has generated, adding that it "isn't because people discovered that it isn't a true meritocracy out there".

The outrage, she said, was because Huffman took steps "to get one more advantage" in a system "already so distorted by money and privilege".

Prosecutors had sought a month in prison for Huffman, while her lawyers argued for probation.

A total of 51 people have been charged in the scheme, the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Prosecutors said parents schemed to rig test scores and bribed coaches to get their children into elite schools by having them labelled as recruited athletes for sports they did not even play.

Huffman had the help of William "Rick" Singer, an admission consultant at the centre of the scheme. Singer, who has pleaded guilty, allegedly bribed a test proctor to correct the teenager's answers.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 15, 2019, with the headline US actress gets prison term in college admissions scam. Subscribe