14 parents, including famous Hollywood actress Felicity Huffman, pleaded guilty to cheating on college entrance exams and paying bribes to get their children admitted in elite colleges within the country.
According to a CNBC report, 13 parents including Agustin Huneeus, owner of a California wine company; Jane Buckingham, California marketing executive; Gregory Abbott, the founder of a New York food and beverage packaging company and a coach acknowledged their role in one of the biggest college admission scandals in the country’s history.
Last month, a federal court in Boston indicted 33 parents, nine college athletic coaches, two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor and one college administrator in the scandal.
Huffman agreed to the charges of mail fraud and honest-services mail fraud for paying $15,000 to William “Rick” Singer‘s fake charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation, for someone to cheat for her daughter on the SATs.
Federal prosecutors say that Singer, the founder of Edge College & Career Network, facilitated cheating on standardized tests, used his non-profit to accept roughly $25 million from parents, and wired bribes to coaches who were part of the scheme.
In a statement released on Monday, Huffman expressed “deep regret and shame,” and claimed that her daughter was unaware of her actions.
Felicity Huffman pleading guilty in college admissions scandal. Here's her statement. pic.twitter.com/m7bDAB6LTF
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) April 8, 2019
“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and the educational community,” she said. “I want to apologise to them and, especially, I want to apologise 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.”
Legal experts have said that due to overwhelming evidence them, it is in the best interest of the defendants to plead guiltily to the charges in the earlier stages of the investigation.
“By entering into a plea agreement now, Huffman avoids indictment on additional charges by the grand jury and may limit her sentencing exposure to the amount she actually paid Singer, instead of the total amount of the fraudulent conspiracy,” Neama Rahmani, a lawyer in Los Angeles and former federal prosecutor, told The Washington Post.
The guilty plea by the parents comes a week after 12 coaches and administrators accused of taking bribes and fraudulently granting students admission into top schools pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges. Actress Lori Laughlin is one among those who continues to maintain her innocence.