Illinois residents may be aware that a few well-known people have been caught up in a college admissions scandal. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among dozens of parents who are accused of paying large sums to ensure that their children were accepted to some of America’s most prominent schools. Court documents made public on April 4 reveal that Huffman is one of 14 defendants who have chosen to avoid a trial and plead guilty to charges such as conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. This brings the total number of guilty pleas to 18, according to prosecutors.
The 56-year-old actress who is best known for her role on the ABC show ‘Desperate Housewives” has admitted to paying $15,000 to improve her daughter’s ACT score. In a statement made on the same day her guilty plea was announced, Huffman apologized for her behavior and the effect it will have on her daughter.
Loughlin was not one of the parents to plead guilty. She and her husband are accused of paying a series of bribes totaling $500,000 to ensure that their two daughters were admitted to the University of Southern California. The ‘Full House” star faces decades in prison if convicted on money laundering charges. According to media reports, several of the parents involved in the alleged scheme have hired prison consultants to prepare them for life behind bars.
Criminal defense attorneys with experience in these types of cases may advise those accused of committing fraud or other white-collar crimes to seek a negotiated plea agreement. This is because the penalties involved are usually severe and federal prosecutors tend to wait until they have compelling evidence before making arrests. However, when their clients profess their innocence and the evidence against them is less than convincing, attorneys may advocate fiercely on their behalf before a jury.
Source: CBS News, “Felicity Huffman and 13 others to plead guilty in college admissions scandal”, Brian Pascus and Justin Carissimo, April 9, 2019