Illinois residents may be aware that several celebrities have been charged in connection with a college admissions scandal. Actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty in May to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to improve her daughter’s SAT scores, and the ‘Desperate Housewives” and ‘American Crime” star appeared in court on Sept. 13 to learn her fate. Huffman stated in a Sept. 4 letter to the court that she was deeply ashamed of using her wealth and influence to help her daughter pursue a college education.
Prosecutors have made it clear that they want to make an example of Huffman and other celebrities involved in the scheme. They urged the judge to go beyond sentencing guidelines by sending Huffman to prison for a month followed by supervised release. They also wanted the actress to be fined $20,000. Huffman’s attorneys claim that their client played only a minor role in the admissions scheme and asked the judge to sentence her to a year of probation and 250 hours of community service. They did not object to the $20,000 fine.
On the morning of the sentencing hearing, the judge filed a memorandum in which she stated that she did not plan to go beyond federal sentencing guidelines. She later sentenced Huffman to 14 days in prison. Huffman will also serve a year of supervised release, perform 250 hours of community service and pay a $30,000 fine. Several of the other parents implicated in the scheme deny any wrongdoing and say they plan to fight the charges in court.
The outcome of this case reveals that federal judges do not always accept the sentencing recommendations of prosecutors in white-collar crime cases. It also shows that judges may listen to criminal defense attorneys with experience in this area when their suggestions fall within accepted sentencing guidelines and are appropriate for the offense in question.
Source: Forbes, “Felicity Huffman Sentenced To Prison”, Zack Friedman, Sept. 14, 2019