Felicity Huffman expected to plead guilty Monday in college scandal

The actress, who apologized for her role in Operation Varsity Blues, could face up to 10 months in prison, legal analysts say.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Alex Johnson

Actress Felicity Huffman, who has admitted paying large sums to help her daughter make it into college, is expected to formally plead guilty Monday in federal court in Boston.

Huffman, an Academy Award nominee who starred in the hit ABC show "Desperate Housewives," agreed to plead guilty last month to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to court records.

She is one of more than a dozen parents who have agreed to plead guilty so far in connection with Operation Varsity Blues, an FBI sting that exposed a network of wealthy parents who paid William Rick Singer millions of dollars to boost their children's chances of getting into prestigious colleges.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Huffman admitted having paid $15,000 so her older daughter could have extra time to complete her SAT and to have a proctor correct the answers. Singer pleaded guilty in March to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.

Huffman could face four to 10 months in prison, legal analysts said.

"Felicity Huffman is like many white-collar defendants for the first time," Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for NBC News, said. "She's racing to court to plead guilty, cooperate with the government, get the lowest sentence possible and just move on with her life."

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of having agreed to pay $500,000 to a fake charity to improve their two daughters' chances of gaining admission to the University of Southern California.

Loughlin, who is free on $1 million bond, pleaded not guilty last month. That may have been a mistake, Cevallos said.

"White-collar defendants like Lori Loughlin who are in trouble for the first time in their lives often have difficulty understanding what they're facing if they go to trial in federal court," he said.

"Lori Loughlin pleaded not guilty, and the government shortly afterward hit her with more charges," he said. "This is government prosecution 101 — the longer she waits, the worse it may be."