Felicity Huffman and LA businessman to formally plead guilty in college admissions case – The Boston Globe
The prosecutor said the authorities had gathered evidence that Huffman conspired “to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud to cheat on the SAT in order to obtain an artificially high SAT score for her daughter.”
Huffman began to cry as she tried to explain to US District Judge Indira Talwani that her daughter had needed extra time on tests since she was 11 years old.
She said that her daughter had been working with a neuropsychologist since she was 8 and that the neurospsychologist had not been part of any scheme.
Choking up, she said, “I just didn’t want to create the impression that the neuropsychologistt had any part in this because, like my daughter, she didn’t have any knowledge of my involvement.”
“Everything else that Mr. Rosen said I did, I did,” she said.
Talwani set sentencing for Huffman for Sept 13. Huffman left the courthouse without speaking to reporters, getting into a black limo.
Also pleading guilty Monday was Devin Sloane, a Los Angeles businessman who paid $250,000 to have his son designated as a member of the USC water polo team in 2018. Sloane paid mastermind William “Rick” Singer $200,000 and former USC athletic official Donna Heinel $50,000, according to prosecutors. Sentencing for Sloane was set for Sept. 10. Prosecutors have recommended a setence of 12 months and one day.
Singer has pleaded guilty for his role and is awaiting sentencing. Heinel has pleaded not guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy.
Talwani told Huffman and Sloane in court that she was not bound to follow the sentencing recommendations from prosecutors.
“Do you understand that I could impose a sentence that is more severe than you anticipate?” Talwani asked.
“Yes, Your Honor,” said Huffman.
In exchange for not being charged with more serious crimes, Huffman and Sloane have given up their right to challenge their convictions and sentences.
Huffman is accused of paying $15,000 to improve her daughter’s SAT scores, according to court documents released last month.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her,” Huffman said in a statement in April. “This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life.”
Huffman is among more than a dozen parents who signed plea agreements with prosecutors, who will seek prison sentences ranging from a few months to a few years, according to previous court filings.
Lori Loughlin, another high-profile actress involved in the scandal, is among a group of 19 parents under indictment who have pleaded not guilty through their attorneys as they fight the criminal charges.
Prior to his plea, Singer cooperated with law enforcement. Singer’s interactions with Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, were obtained by law enforcement.
Huffman and Macy — who is not facing charges — hired Singer to improve the results of one of their daughters on standardized testing scheduled for December 2017, ultimately paying $15,000 to a bogus charity Singer operated as part of the scam.
Before the December 2017 SAT, Huffman and her spouse agreed to a plan that would arrange for their daughter to take the standardized test at a location where Singer’s ally, Mark Riddell, would proctor the test and could “secretly correct her answers afterwards.”
At the instruction of Singer, Huffman obtained permission from the College Board to allow her daughter a 100 percent increase in the test-taking time. Huffman alerted her daughter’s high school guidance counselor about the change, leading the counselor to unwittingly disrupt the plans, according to an FBI affidavit.
The counselor noted that Huffman’s daughter would have to take the test at her high school and the guidance counselor would be the proctor.
“Ruh Ro!’’ Huffman wrote to Singer, according to the court filing. “Looks like [my daughter’s school] wants to provide their own proctor.”
At the instruction of Singer, Huffman notified the school that her daughter would be taking the test at the West Hollywood Test Center on the weekend so she would not miss any school. According to the court filing, a Singer ally proctored the exam attended by Huffman’s daughter on Dec. 2, 2017, and secretly changed her answers.
“Ultimately, Huffman’s daughter received a score of 1420 on the SAT, an improvement of 400 points over her PSAT” when she took it without help one year earlier, the court filing said.
The man identified as Riddell was allegedly paid $35,000 by Singer for falsifying the test results for Huffman’s daughter and several other Singer clients. Singer also allegedly paid a bribe to the administrator of the test center.
Huffman and her spouse later talked with Singer about scamming the test results for their younger daughter, whom Huffman described as “academically driven.” They agreed to pay $15,000 to get her SAT scores near the 1600 range so her daughter would qualify for “places like” Georgetown University, the court filing said.
However, the couple did not follow through on that plan.
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