After the college admissions scandal made headlines in 2019, Felicity Huffman was among the celebs charged in the sting operation orchestrated by the Justice Department. Although she completed a 14-day jail sentence back in October 2019, her role in the scandal is being spotlighted once more. On Wednesday, Netflix released the documentary Operation Varsity Blues, (opens in new tab) the first film to tell the story of the admissions scandal. The title of the documentary comes from the Justice Department’s nickname for the probe, which indicted nearly 50 individuals who bribed university administrators or committed other forms of fraud to get their children into prestigious universities.
Huffman, for her part, was accused of making “a purported charitable contribution of $15,000” to “participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter,” according to court documents (opens in new tab). She was also accused of making arrangements to engage in the scheme for her younger daughter, before deciding not to do so.
The Golden Globe-winning actress apologized for her role in the scheme ahead of her 14-day imprisonment. “I am deeply sorry to the students, schools, and universities that are impacted by my actions,” she told court (opens in new tab). “I take full responsibility for my actions and as a first step for making amends for my crime. I will accept whatever punishment you deem appropriate.”
Huffman served less than two weeks in prison and was released on October 25, 2019. In addition to jail time, she was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and a year of supervised release. Huffman’s husband, who was named in court documents yet escaped indictment, had to pay a fine of $30,000 and perform 250 hours of community service, according to NBC (opens in new tab).
Felicity Huffman told a judge that she wanted to give her daughter a “fair shot.”
Ahead of her sentencing, Huffman told a judge that she paid a $15,000 bribe to obtain fraudulent SAT scores for her daughter out of the baffling idea that she was giving her daughter a “fair shot” at college opportunities.
In a sentencing memo that recommended a one-month sentence for Huffman–which was later reduced to 14 days–the prosecution argued that the actress was aware she was engaging in criminal activity.
According to Variety (opens in new tab) report, the prosecution wrote, “Her efforts weren’t driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity,” the prosecution wrote. “Millions of parents send their kids to college every year. All of them care as much as she does about their children’s fortunes. But they don’t buy fake SAT scores and joke about it… along the way.”
In order to arrange the scheme, Huffman used her daughter’s learning disability to ask for extra time on the test and switch her daughter’s testing center to one operated by Singer, where the proctor would correct her test. According to court documents (opens in new tab) obtained from the Justice Department, her score went up 400 points from her PSAT to 1420 on the SAT (out of 1600).
What is Felicity Huffman doing now?
A year and a half after the scandal broke in March 2019, Huffman officially completed both her jail sentence and community service in October 2020. A Variety report (opens in new tab) noted that Huffman has already found work headlining a single-camera pilot at ABC. Insiders told Variety that the Desperate Housewives actress was approached by many Hollywood “parties” who were eager to sign with the actress.
“From day one, she just wanted to do the right thing and that’s what she’s done and that’s what she’s doing,” a source said. “She is grateful there is work available for her.”
In November, the LA Times (opens in new tab) reported that Huffman's untitled ABC pilot will tell the story of a minor-league baseball team that she inherited after the death of her husband. Zack Gottsagen of Peanut Butter Falcon fame will costar as the actress' son, a baseball obsessive who has Down syndrome. According to the Times, the show is based on Susan Savage, the owner of the Triple A World Champion Sacramento River Cats. Huffman is set to executive produce.
Zoe Guy is the digital fellow at Marie Claire, where she covers pop culture, hot celebrity gossip, movies and TV. She’s obsessed with Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence, anything written by Jesmyn Ward and stan Twitter.
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