Actress Felicity Huffman, the first parent sentenced in a wide-ranging U.S. college admissions cheating scandal, has been given a 14-day prison term after she made a somber apology in federal court for paying to rig her daughter’s entrance exam.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also ordered Huffman, the former star of the popular television series “Desperate Housewives” and one-time Academy Award nominee, to pay a $30,000 fine, undergo a year of supervised release and complete 250 hours of community service. Huffman, 56, pleaded guilty in May.
“My first apology is to you,” Huffman, wearing a black dress, told the judge immediately before being sentenced.
“I realise now as a mother that love and truth must go hand in hand, and love at the expense of truth is not real love,” the actress said. “I will deserve whatever punishment you give me.”
Huffman was released from court after the judge ordered her to report to prison on Oct. 25. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, who had been seated in the courtroom and is not charged in the scheme, immediately approached her after court adjourned and rubbed her shoulders.
The scandal cast a spotlight on the advantages of wealth in college admissions and the lengths to which some rich Americans have gone to get their children into top universities at the expense of other applicants.
Huffman was among 51 people charged in a vast scheme in which wealthy parents were accused of conspiring to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure for their children admission to prominent U.S. universities. These schools included Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas and Wake Forest.
After the sentencing hearing, Huffman issued a statement expanding on her apology.
“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,” Huffman said in the statement.
“My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions,” Huffman added.