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Felicity Huffman, 13 others to plead guilty in college admissions bribery scheme

Published: Monday, April 08, 2019 @ 3:02 PM
Updated: Monday, April 08, 2019 @ 3:31 PM

Actress Felicity Huffman departs federal court in Boston on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. (AP Photos/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/AP
Actress Felicity Huffman departs federal court in Boston on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. (AP Photos/Charles Krupa)(Charles Krupa/AP)

Actress Felicity Huffman and 13 other people charged as part of a federal investigation into a large-scale college admissions bribery scandal plan to plead guilty, Justice Department officials said Monday in a statement.

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Huffman, 56, paid admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer at least $15,000 to rig her eldest daughter’s college entrance exam, authorities said. She disguised the payment as a charitable donation, investigators said in a complaint filed in court.

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Huffman plans to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as part of an agreement with prosecutors, Justice Department officials said.

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In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Huffman said she was “in full acceptance” of her guilt and that she has “deep regret and shame over what I have done.”

“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.”

Justice Department officials said twelve other parents and one coach caught up in the scandal also planned to plead guilty to various charges. Authorities identified them as:

  • Gregory Abbott, 68, of New York City, together with his wife, Marcia, 59, agreed to pay Singer $125,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for their daughter
  • Jane Buckingham, 50, of Beverly Hills, California, agreed to pay Singer $50,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for her son
  • Gordon Caplan, 52, of Greenwich, Connecticut, agreed to pay Singer $75,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter
  • Robert Flaxman, 62, of Laguna Beach, California, agreed to pay Singer $75,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter
  • Agustin Huneeus Jr., 53, of San Francisco, agreed to pay Singer $300,000 to participate in both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the college recruitment scheme for his daughter
  • Marjorie Klapper, 50, of Menlo Park, California, agreed to pay Singer $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for her son
  • Peter Jan Sartorio, 53, of Menlo Park, California, agreed to pay Singer $15,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for his daughter
  • Stephen Semprevivo, 53, of Los Angeles, agreed to pay Singer $400,000 to participate in the college recruitment scheme for his son
  • Devin Sloane, 53, of Los Angeles, agreed to pay Singer $250,000 to participate in the college recruitment scheme for his son
  • Bruce Isackson, 61, and Davina Isackson, 55, of Hillsborough, California, agreed to pay Singer an amount, ultimately totaling $600,000, to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for their younger daughter and the college recruitment scheme for both of their daughters. Authorities said the Isacksons also underpaid their federal income taxes by deducting the bribe payments as purported charitable contributions.
  • Michael Center, 54, of Austin, the former head coach of men’s tennis at the University of Texas at Austin, personally accepted $60,000 in cash from Singer in 2015, as well as $40,000 directed to the University of Texas tennis program, in exchange for designating the child of one of Singer’s clients as a tennis recruit, facilitating his admission to the University of Texas

It was not immediately clear when the defendants would appear in court for plea hearings.

Huffman was one of 50 people charged last month as part of the admissions scheme, in which parents allegedly paid Singer to bribe college coaches and rig test scores to get their children into elite universities. The scandal also led to the arrests of “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli.

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At least nine college athletic coaches have been charged as part of the investigation, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, authorities said.

Singer, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with investigators. Former Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith has also pleaded guilty.

Several coaches have pleaded not guilty, including tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who is accused of accepting $2.7 million in bribes to designate at least 12 applicants as recruits to Georgetown University.

Dozens Indicted in College Admissions Bribery Case

The Associated Press contributed to this report.