Florida fans of “Desperate Housewives” heard many apologies from actress Felicity Huffman, former star of the series, after she entered guilty pleas in the college admission scandal. She accepted responsibility for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and provided a public statement. Huffman expressed shame for her choice to pay a bribe to improve her daughter’s SAT score. She apologized specifically to honest parents who sacrifice to help their hard-working children enter college.
Huffman was charged with criminal activity after an FBI investigation identified a web of affluent and sometimes famous parents who had conspired with a man to get their children into colleges for a price. Huffman paid the ringleader $15,000 via a so-called donation to his charity organization. For that price, he arranged for an SAT proctor to correct answers on the test taken by Huffman’s daughter. This increased the score by 400 points. Huffman insists that her daughter did not know about it.
Her guilty plea could expose her to a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but a filed plea deal indicates that she might only get 10 months in prison. The deal calls for one year of supervised release, restitution and a $20,000 fine.
Plea deals often reduce penalties considerably in cases of wire fraud, embezzlement or bribery. A person concerned about allegations of financial crimes could ask a white-collar crimes defense lawyer for advice. The attorney could evaluate the strength of the case and prepare challenges to any charges not fully supported by evidence. If criminal charges weather this effort, then the lawyer could defend the client at trial or negotiate a plea bargain.