Facing the punishment, Felicity Huffman says she wanted a "fair shot" for her daughter


BOSTON - The popular television actress raised confidence in front of the camera, but as a mother, she said, she was insecure.

Actress Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced on Friday for forgery admission to the nation's largest university, said she was always on the lookout for "the right book or the right advice" that would prevent her from making one. He made a terrible mistake raising his children.

Then, when a college counselor warned her that her oldest daughter's SAT score would be considered by the best performing arts schools, she heard what he suggested next: cheating her with $ 15,000 in exams for. Should be paid

In his letter to the judge, Huffman stated, "In my desperation to be a good mother, I convinced myself that I believed that everything I was doing was giving my daughter a fair chance." Ms. Huffman said in her letter that she "now saw the irony in that statement."

A federal judge will decide for Ms. Huffman's role what the prosecution describes as a broad conspiracy to bribe in exams and appoint bribe coaches to recruit students to sports they often do not practice. Ms. Huffman, who pleaded guilty in May, is the first of nearly three dozen wealthy parents accused of conspiring to commit fraud and conscientious service post fraud, and her sentence is being closely watched. is. An early indication of whether sanctions will be important.

Prosecutors have sentenced Ms. Huffman to one month in jail, while her lawyers say she should go to one year of probation and not to jail. The two sides have discussed to better compare Ms. Huffman's crime, a serious crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, with previous instances of educational fraud. And questions have been raised about whether Ms. Huffman and other parents would receive lighter penalties than poor and non-white defendants convicted of similar crimes.

Ms. Huffman, in the letter presented before her sentence, asked to be inspired by a mixture of maternal devotion and fear. She wrote that her insecurities as a mother, which led her to believe her to have a daughter with a learning disability, were advised by a university counselor and her advice against her best decision was to counsel the counselor, William Singer. Relied upon, which the prosecutor was on. An intellectual writer of admission scheme, guilty of extortion and other charges; He has not yet been sentenced.

After mentioning Ms. Huffman's daughter for about a year, Singer told Ms. Huffman that, until her daughter's SAT math score rose rapidly, the schools performing it in which she did not understand it Wants, Mrs. Huffman told the judge.

"Honestly, I didn't care and I didn't care that my daughter went to a prestigious university," Huffman wrote. "I just wanted to give them a chance to think about a program where their talent for acting would be the deciding factor. It seems empty now, but, in my opinion, I knew that your success or failure in theater or cinema Your math was there. Wouldn't depend on skill. I didn't want my daughter to be prevented from getting the opportunity to audition and she liked it because she can't count. "

Prosecutors have argued that the parents involved should serve at least some time in prison to show that rich people will avoid contaminating the entry system. At one point, prosecutors said they would ask Ms. Huffman to face four months behind bars, but she declined his request last week. In the cases of some other parents who have pleaded guilty in the case, they seek 15 months imprisonment. She asked for a comparatively lighter sentence for Ms. Huffman, she said, because she paid less than many other parents and because she decided not to include her youngest daughter in the plan.

In looking for a minimum term of imprisonment, prosecutors have pointed out instances of educational fraud which, in some cases, are punishable by imprisonment, prolonged. In court documents, he cited a case in which Atlanta public schools teachers, principals, and administrators were convicted in a conspiracy to defraud in state trials, and some were sentenced to up to three years in prison; All the defendants were black. In another case, an African-American mother in Ohio was sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence that was later jailed for 10 days, conditional Libertad, and community service, to her children To use his father's address to take. A nearby suburb. School District.

In light of such instances, the prosecution suggested sending parents on parole, in which case, there would be allegations of injustice and racial bias.

The case involves "more integrated - organized schemes and multiple conspirators" - usually as a result of the imposition of important terms of imprisonment, "he wrote." Often, the defendant is involved in those cases Those who are members of racial and ethnic minorities and/or di ciently socio-economic environment. A different result in this case, especially given the history and characteristics of these defendants, would not be appropriate. "

While requesting probation for Ms. Huffman, her attorneys cited instances of evidence fraud in which defendants did not have time in prison, in a case in which 15 Chinese citizens were accused of cheating on university entrance exams. Fake passports include paid tests. Policyholders In that 2015 case, most defendants received probation, and although the records of the two defendants have been sealed, Ms. Huffman's attorneys say none of the defendants went to jail.

The prosecution has accused 51 people in the admission case, including Mr. Singer trainer and staff, and the parents of 15 of the 34 accused have pleaded guilty. Most of those parents are to be sentenced in the coming weeks, most of them by the same judge, Indira Talwani.

In addition to one-month imprisonment for Ms. Huffman, prosecutors have requested a year of supervised release and a fine of $ 20,000. Ms. Huffman's attorneys have advocated for one year of probation, fines and 250 hours of community service.

Prosecutors have blamed the university admissions scheme as a conspiracy that was tested at victim companies and universities where instructors accepted bribes to recruit students who were mostly not real athletes. But a question, in this case, is how judges will see the role of universities that are involved in the scandal, and which may influence their decisions about punishment.

In a recent judicial presentation, federal probation officers, who advise judges on sentencing guidelines, said they questioned: "What responsibility do schools and evaluation agencies have for not properly supervising admissions procedures and evaluations?"? " To ensure that they are fair to all students. "