April 8 (UPI) — Actor Felicity Huffman and 13 other defendants pleaded guilty Monday to charges related to a national college bribery and recruitment scheme, the Department of Justice said.
Each of the 14 defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Each was accused of agreeing to pay William “Rick” Singer, the accused mastermind of the scheme, thousands of dollars to help their children with their college admissions process.
Court documents said Huffman paid Singer $15,000 to get her daughter more time to take her SAT test. The Dangerous Housewives actor’s husband, William H. Macy, was not charged in the scheme.
In a statement released Monday, Huffman said she had “deep regret and shame” over her actions, and she plans to accept responsibility for her crime.
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. 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.
Huffman said she “betrayed” her daughter, who had no knowledge of the scheme.
“This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life,” Huffman said. “My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”
Under the terms of Huffman’s plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend imprisonment at the low end of sentencing guidelines for the crime, a fine of $20,000, 12 months of supervised release and restitution.
Huffman was one of 50 people implicated in the scheme, dubbed Varsity Blues, in which prospective students paid for unlawful help with standardized test or paid bribes to be designated as student-athletes for sports they didn’t play.
Among the accused were another actor, Lori Loughlin, who allegedly paid $500,000 to help her two daughters gain acceptance to the University of Southern California through its rowing team.
Singer, who owned and operated a for-profit college entrance company, pleaded guilty in March to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy and obstruction of justice.