Actress Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college admissions scandal

In this file photo taken on April 3, 2019, actress Felicity Huffman exits the courthouse after facing charges for allegedly conspiring to commit mail fraud and other charges in the college admissions scandal at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. (AFP)
Updated 09 April 2019

Actress Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college admissions scandal

  • The Boston Globe said that as part of a plea agreement, Huffman’s sentencing guidelines would be between four to 10 months in prison

NEW YORK: Actress Felicity Huffman and a dozen other parents agreed on Monday to plead guilty to using bribery to get their children into prestigious universities.
Huffman, 56, best known for her role in the “Desperate Housewives” series, agreed to plead guilty to paying $15,000 to help her eldest daughter get better scores on the SAT college entrance exam, the Massachusetts Department of Justice said in a statement.
Huffman’s equally famous husband, actor William H. Macy of “Fargo” fame, was not charged in connection with the college admissions scandal.
The Massachusetts Department of Justice said that in addition to Huffman, another dozen parents charged in the case had also agreed to plead guilty.
Huffman could face a maximum of up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud but is not expected to receive such a stiff sentence.
The Boston Globe said that as part of a plea agreement, Huffman’s sentencing guidelines would be between four to 10 months in prison and prosecutors would recommend she serve the “low end” of that scale.
The newspaper also published a statement from Huffman in which she apologized for her actions.
“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 apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize 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.
“My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her,” Huffman said. “My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty.”

Another television actress, Lori Loughlin, known for her role on “Full House,” has also been charged in the case but did not enter a plea on Monday.
Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 in 2016 and 2017 so that their two daughters could gain entrance into the University of Southern California by posing as members of the rowing team.
The actresses were the most famous of the 50 people indicted in a scam to help children of the American elite gain entry into top US colleges.
Some of the other parents involved were CEOs or partners in major law firms.
Some of them paid as much as $400,000 to get their child into the college of their choice.
The ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.
Besides USC, some of the universities targeted in the elaborate cheating scam include Yale, Stanford, UCLA and Georgetown. None of the schools or the students have been charged in the case.
According to prosecutors, the accused parents paid a firm run by Singer to cheat on college entrance exams for their children or to bribe coaches to help non-athletic students get scholarships.


Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

Updated 16 September 2019

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

  • Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union

LUXEMBOURG: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks Monday insisting a Brexit deal is possible, despite deep skepticism from European capitals with just six weeks to go before departure day.
After a weekend in which he compared himself to comic book super-smasher Hulk, the British leader will enjoy a genteel working lunch of snails and salmon in Luxembourg with the EU Commission president.
Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit.
A UK spokesman said Johnson would tell Juncker that “progress has been made, given that before the summer recess many said reopening talks would not be possible.
“The UK needs to enact the referendum result and avoid another delay; the UK wants to deliver Brexit and move on to other priorities, and EU member states’ leaders want to renegotiate an orderly Brexit.”
But Brussels has played down talk of a breakthrough, insisting Johnson has yet to suggest any “legally operable” proposal to revise a previous withdrawal accord.
As he shook hands with Johnson, Juncker declared himself “cautiously optimistic” and insisted that “Europe never loses patience” despite the tortuous Brexit saga dragging on over three years.
Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, who was chairing an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels, gave a more downbeat assessment, repeating the bloc’s long-standing complaint that London has simply not come up with detailed ideas for replacing the so-called “Irish backstop” section of the divorce deal.
“The European Union is always ready to negotiate when a proper proposal from the UK side is presented,” Tuppurainen said.
“So far I haven’t seen any proposal that would compensate the backstop.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who joined the leaders for their talks in Juncker’s native Grand Duchy, said last week he has “no reason to be optimistic.”
The European Parliament will this week vote on a resolution rejecting Johnson’s demand that the backstop clause be stripped from the deal.
Johnson insists this measure, which temporarily keeps the UK in the EU customs union, has to go if he is to bring the agreement back to the House of Commons.
But the accord will also have to win the support of the other 27 EU leaders and the European Parliament if Britain is not to crash out with no deal on October 31 — a scenario that businesses warn would bring economic chaos.
Johnson, in turn, boasts that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask his European counterparts to postpone Brexit for a third time.
“Be in no doubt that if we cannot get a deal — the right deal for both sides — then the UK will come out anyway,” Johnson said, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday.
A UK spokesman said that Britain would refuse an extension even if one were offered.
It is difficult, then, to see what might come from the lunch. There is no plan for a joint statement, but Barnier will meet Britain’s Brexit minister Stephen Barclay for separate discussions.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Barclay indicated that any post-Brexit transition period could be extended past 2020 in order to resolve issues with the border.
Johnson, meanwhile, compared himself to Marvel comics hero Hulk, the rampaging mutant alter-ego of a mild-mannered nuclear scientist.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets and he always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be,” Johnson told the Mail on Sunday.
Johnson’s strategy faces resistance at home, where rebel and opposition MPs have passed a law aimed at forcing him to seek a Brexit delay.
Britain’s Supreme Court will rule this week on a bid to overturn Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament and limit time to debate the crisis.
Barnier will address the European Parliament session in Strasbourg on Wednesday as MEPs vote to reaffirm and reinforce the EU Brexit stance — and insist that the backstop must stay.
After his lunch with Juncker, Johnson is due to meet Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. The pair will hold a joint news conference.