On April 8, actress Felicity Huffman took full responsibility for her role in a college admissions cheating scandal in which she paid $15,000 to dishonestly improve her elder daughter's SAT score without the girl's knowledge. The same day, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that the "Desperate Housewives" star and a dozen others had reached a plea deal.
According to reports based on the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney's office wants prison time, but reports indicate it would likely be only a matter of a few months.
The other Hollywood star who was arrested and charged in the bribery scam that was exposed in March — "Fuller House" actress Lori Loughlin — has not yet reached a plea deal. And now a new report from TMZ indicates that Lori and designer husband Mossimo Giannulli could be facing a minimum of two years in prison for their alleged crimes.
The lengthier prison sentence, TMZ explains, is because the couple allegedly paid much more — $500,000 in bribes — to get their two daughters, Bella and social media influencer Olivia Jade, into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits even though the young women were not athletes. According to TMZ's sources, that amount "raises the minimum prison sentence in a plea deal to a range of two to two-and-a-half years," the webloid writes.
Sources close to the case told TMZ that all the indicted parents have been offered plea deals at this point — but all of those deals involve prison time that in most cases is related to how much the parents paid for the dishonest admissions scheme as well as whether or not they've accepted responsibility for their actions.
According to TMZ's sources, "prosecutors have given all defendants an ultimatum [to] reach a plea deal QUICKLY or else they will go to a federal grand jury and add charges, including money laundering, which significantly raises the low end of prison time."
TMZ reports that Felicity could end up serving as little as four months behind bars. According to Variety, in the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney's Office explains that it thinks the first group of parents who've pleaded guilty should receive sentences on the "low end" of a four-to-10-month range, though sentencing is ultimately up to a judge. Variety further explains that prosecutors also want a year of supervised released plus restitution payments.
CNN published a statement from Felicity on April 8. It reads: "I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney's Office. I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions."
It continued: "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.
"My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty."