Written by Kate Taylor
Facing time in prison for her role in the nations largest college admissions scandal, actress Felicity Huffman grew tearful, her voice breaking as she told a courtroom she wished she had never taken part in a scheme to inflate her daughters SAT score.
In the end, a federal judge in Boston sentenced Huffman to 14 days in a federal prison Friday. She was the first parent to face punishment in a scheme in which nearly three dozen wealthy people are accused of using lies and bribes to smooth their childrens way into prestigious colleges.
The judges decision to impose a prison sentence on Huffman, whom prosecutors saw as one of the least culpable parents, made it more likely that any parents convicted in the case will face at least some prison time, even if the period is brief and largely symbolic.
In arguing that the parents in this case should go to prison, prosecutors had pointed to examples of defendants like Kelley Williams-Bolar, an African American single mother in Akron, Ohio, who was sentenced to five years in prison a sentence later suspended to 10 days in jail, three years of probation and community service for using her fathers address to get her children into a nearby suburban school district.
Huffmans lawyer, Martin Murphy, argued that most comparable defendants were given probation rather than prison.
Huffman addressed the judge, Indira Talwani, reading from notes as she said how she regretted taking part in the cheating scheme in which she paid $15,000 to inflate her daughters test score.
Talwani also imposed a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service. Huffman was ordered to report in six weeks to a federal Bureau of Prisons facility that has yet to be chosen.
Prosecutors have charged 51 people in the admissions case, including coaches and others, and 15 of the 34 parents charged have pleaded guilty. In the cases of some other parents who have pleaded guilty, prosecutors are seeking as much as 15 months of incarceration.
They asked for a comparatively lighter sentence one month for Huffman in part, they said, because she paid less than many of the other parents and because she chose not to include her younger daughter in the scheme.