Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for her role in the largest college admissions scandal prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani told Huffman she could "rebuild" her life after the jail term. The actress was also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and serve 250 hours of community service.
Talwani called Huffman's punishment "the right sentence here," reports CNN. Talwani then turned to Huffman, telling her, "I think you take your sentence and you move forward... You can rebuild your life after this. You’ve paid your dues."
“I accept the court’s decision today without reservation,” Huffman said in a written statement, reports the Los Angeles Times. “I have always been prepared to accept whatever punishment Judge Talwani imposed. I broke the law. I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period."
She continued, "My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions.”
Huffman was the first person in the college admissions scandal sentenced to prison. According to prosecutors, she paid $15,000 to William Singer, a college admissions consultant who received thousands of dollars from wealthy parents nervous about their children's chances to get into college.
Huffman paid to have her eldest daughter Sofia's SAT scores boosted with Singer's help. When Sofia took the SATs in December 2017, her score was almost 400 points better than her PSAT score, which was taken before Huffman hired Singer to doctor the test. Huffman considered doing the same scheme to help her younger daughter, Georgia, but ultimately chose not to.
Huffman was among the 15 parents who agreed to take a plea deal with prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen sought a month-long sentence for Huffman, and has suggested one to 15-month sentences for other parents who pleaded guilty, based on how much they paid Signer. Huffman's attorneys sought just a year of probation, a $20,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.
During the hearing in a Boston federal court house, Huffman cried as she told the judge a story about taking her daughter to a testing center, thinking she should turn around "and to my eternal shame, I didn't."
After the scheme was revealed, Huffman said her daughter asked, "I don’t know who you are anymore mom? Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?"
"I am deeply ashamed of what I have done. At the end of the day I had a choice to make. I could have said 'no,'" Huffman said, before adding, "I take full responsibility."
In her written statement, Huffman vowed to live a "more honest life" in the future.
"I can promise you that in the months and years to come that I will try and live a more honest life, serve as a better role model for my daughters and family and continue to contribute my time and energies wherever I am needed," Huffman wrote. "My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions."
Huffman has to report to prison on Oct. 25. It's not clear where she will be incarcerated, but her attorney asked she be close to her home in California.
Photo credit: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images