Who Does Felicity Huffman Have To Bribe Around Here To Stay Out Of Jail?
The hammers of justice are about to strike Felicity Huffman. On Friday, prosecutors filed sentencing recommendations for Huffman and 10 other less famous but still obnoxiously rich parents who paid big money to cheat their spoiled kids' way into prestigious colleges. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, which are felonies even if they sound boring. Huffman's sentencing is scheduled for next week and it looks like prosecutors plan to throw a thin leaflet at her.
The actress Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty to paying a consultant $15,000 to inflate her elder daughter's SAT score, is facing less potential jail time — prosecutors are now recommending one month of incarceration — than many of the about three dozen parents accused of wrongdoing in the scheme.
It's really not much of a college admissions "scandal" if one of the perpetrators is only facing a month in the joint. That's less a "scandal" than a "snafu." They're recommending sentencing Huffman to The Breakfast Club, and she's still trying to weasel her way out of anything close to actual punishment.
In a separate filing, Ms. Huffman's lawyers argued that she should get no jail time, but instead a year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.
Huffman was at one point earning $375,000 per episode for "Desperate Housewives," which -- in a surprise to no one -- was our favorite show for a while. The $20,000 fine her lawyers are suggesting would amount to roughly five percent of a single paycheck. That'll teach her a lesson! Or at least pay for someone else to take the test that demonstrates she learned something. If the financial hit we'd face for committing a federal crime amounted to what we make for a couple Wonkette articles, we'd go full Goodfellas. (We do not make $10,000 per article! We are doing a comparison.) Crime may not pay, but we guess you can break even from it.
In a separate filing, Huffman's lawyers spun a Lifetime movie narrative about how the actor got into this mess. William Singer, a "college consultant," broke the news to Huffman and her husband William H. Macy that their daughter's test scores "were too low to be considered for the performing arts school she dreamed of." He proposed a scheme that Huffman described in her own words: "Control the outcome of the SAT — 15 grand — get a proctor in the room with her and she gets the answer she needs to get."
This is cheating, and although Huffman claims to have "agonized" over her decision for six whole weeks (longer than her proposed jail time), she still went through it.
HUFFMAN: I felt an urgency which built to a sense of panic that there was this huge obstacle in the way that needed to be fixed for my daughter's sake. As warped as this sounds now, I honestly began to feel that maybe I would be a bad mother if I didn't do what Mr. Singer was suggesting.
Some spoilsports aren't convinced Huffman has been inconvenienced enough, and they've contrasted her potential sentence with the fate of non-white lady Tanya McDowell, who was never on "Desperate Housewives," not even when it sucked. McDowell was sentenced in 2012 to five years underneath the jail for illegally enrolling her six-year-old son in a Norwalk, Connecticut, public school. She pleaded guilty to first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first degree larceny. This is how the law works when you're black: You commit a crime and your jail sentence is usually longer than the average Crate & Barrel delivery time.
But the comparison is arguably apples and broke-ass oranges. Other than being the weakest Desperate Housewife, Huffman had no previous offenses prior to her college admissions snafu. McDowell was busted for twice selling drugs to an undercover cop. She was homeless and truly desperate. The judge who sentenced her claimed the cases were wholly unrelated and since she's serving five years for the drug sales, which runs concurrently with the five years for the public school heist, it's like she scored a free crime. Hooray!
Frasier - Julia chokes youtu.be
Besides, if McDowell wanted leniency, she should've had the foresight to make friends with Eva Longoria. Huffman's "Desperate Housewives" co-star was one of 27 people who wrote a moving letter of support on her behalf. They're probably concerned that Huffman might have to do one of the longer months, the ones with 31 days or even the one when you just gain an hour. Longoria details in her letter how Huffman stood up for her against an on-set bully and even consoled her when she was the only Housewife not to get nominated for a Golden Globe after the first season. (Lady, you were on "The Young and the Restless" just a year earlier -- primetime TV was your award!)
LONGORIA: I was the only one who got left out of the nominations. I wasn't devastated but the press made it a bigger deal than it was between the four of us actors and that did affect me a bit. Felicity came into my trailer and said, "It's just a piece of metal. That and $1.50 will get you a bus ticket." She then proceeded to tell me how talented I was and how I never needed an award to know that.
That is sweet. It's also evidence that Huffman possessed the maturity and emotional intelligence in 2005 to appreciate that her own daughter could survive receiving her college education at DeVry. Or maybe the whole "awards don't matter" speech was just some woo-woo crap she tells former soap stars who'd never worked with David Mamet or Aaron Sorkin.
For Huffman's sake, let's hope the other letters of support are more helpful, and the prosecutors will just sentence her to a nice, light February.
Bless her heart.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.