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Felicity Huffman likely to face some prison time in college admissions scandal

Felicity Huffman and a dozen other wealthy parents agreed to plead guilty after being swept up in the far-reaching college admissions scandal.

In announcing that she would plead guilty in the college admissions scandal, Felicity Huffman said she “will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.”

But what will those consequences be?

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Here is a breakdown:

The allegation

Prosecutors said Huffman paid $15,000 for a 36-year-old Harvard graduate to correct her daughter’s answers on the SAT, giving the girl a 400-point boost over a previous score. Huffman later discussed pursuing a similar scheme for her younger daughter, according to court records.

Huffman is among dozens of parents facing charges in the still-ongoing investigation of shady practices involving wealthy families and prestigious schools across the U.S.

Huffman was charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The possible sentence

Prosecutors have said they would ask for punishment at the low end of the sentencing scale for the actress, possibly less than a year.

Manny Medrano, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said that, based on 2019 federal sentencing guidelines, Huffman would likely face from four to 10 months in prison as part of her plea.

Her sentencing recommendation is low because she has no criminal history and because the amount of money involved is relatively small, Medrano said.

The fallout

In a statement Monday, Huffman expressed deep remorse.

“I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community,” she said.

“I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly. My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her.”

The big picture

Huffman and 12 other parents, including Los Angeles marketing guru Jane Buckingham and Bay Area real estate developer Bruce Isackson and his wife, have agreed to plead guilty have agreed to plead guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy in the investigation.

Michael Center, the former men’s tennis coach at the University of Texas at Austin accused of accepting $60,000 in cash and a $40,000 donation to his tennis program to ensure a student was admitted as a recruited athlete, will also plead guilty to fraud.

The admissions scheme centered on William “Rick” Singer, owner of a for-profit Newport Beach college admissions company. Parents are accused of paying the firm to help their children cheat on college entrance exams and falsify athletic records, enabling their children to secure admission to elite schools — including UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown — according to court records.

Thirty-three parents have been charged in the case, and others are expected to follow through this week with plans to plead guilty.

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Several criminal defense attorneys and legal experts said that, with many of the parents and coaches caught on recorded phone calls or in emails discussing payments and the cheating they bought, there appear to be few options to mount a strong defense, so cutting a deal may be the best option.

“These cases aren't about defense, they are about mitigation,” said Neama Rahmani, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

“If a defendant stays in, they are getting bad advice from their lawyers. These are bulletproof cases. As an attorney, it is about finding the best way to reach a plea with the government with a reduced sentence,” he said.

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