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Felicity Huffman Sentenced to 14 Days Behind Bars in College Admissions Scandal

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The actress Felicity Huffman, left, walked into a federal courthouse in Boston on Friday beside her husband, the actor William H. Macy.
The actress Felicity Huffman, left, walked into a federal courthouse in Boston on Friday beside her husband, the actor William H. Macy.CreditCreditScott Eisen for The New York Times

By Kate Taylor, New York Times

  • Sept. 13, 2019

BOSTON — The actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for paying a college consultant $15,000 to inflate her daughter’s SAT score, becoming the first parent given a punishment in a sweeping scheme in which nearly three dozen wealthy parents are accused of using lies and bribes to smooth their children’s way into prestigious colleges.

Ms. Huffman’s sentence, which included a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service, was being closely watched as an indication of how harshly parents in this case would be punished. And it suggested that the judge, Indira Talwani, agreed with prosecutors that a term of imprisonment — even a short one — was necessary to send a message that wealthy parents would not get away with trying to steal admissions slots from more deserving students.

Ms. Huffman’s lawyers had argued for a sentence of probation. They said that prison was not needed as a deterrent in Ms. Huffman’s case because she had already suffered enough — being publicly shamed, seeing her acting career crater, and incurring the anger of her family.

Even before the sentencing, questions were being raised about fairness and whether Ms. Huffman and the other defendants would receive lighter punishments than poor and nonwhite defendants convicted of similar crimes.

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