Felicity Huffman’s guilty plea a “very bad sign” for Lori Loughlin, legal expert says
More than a dozen parents in the college admissions scandal, including actress Felicity Huffman, are waiting to learn if they face prison time after agreeing to plead guilty. She is accused of spending $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT score and in her first public comments since her arrest said Monday that she feels “deep regret and shame.”
Actress Lori Loughlin is not among the parents now working with prosecutors after allegedly spending half a million dollars to guarantee her daughters’ admission to USC. But experts say Monday’s plea deals are putting legal pressure on Loughlin and other parents who’ve yet to cooperate.
“Felicity Huffman pleading guilty and giving such a perfect statement of remorse and contrition is a very bad sign for Lori Loughlin … If you go forward and fight this case you really could wind up with a sentence that is a lot of time in prison,” said CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman. “By having all these guilty pleas at one time … it’s to send a message out there to the remaining defendants that you better get in here and you better get in here quick.”
In a statement, Huffman said, “I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences … my daughter knew absolutely nothing… and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her.”
As part of her plea deal, prosecutors are advising a prison term at the “low end” of the sentencing guidelines of four to 10 months. She has also agreed to pay a $20,000 fine.
The 13 parents pleading guilty are accused of cheating or using bribes to help guarantee their children’s admission into college including Stanford, which has confirmed it expelled a student whose application was linked to the scandal.
“What we don’t know is what the government is going to do about some of the students because some of the students knew exactly what their parents were doing,” Klieman said.
Among the parents agreeing to plead guilty are real estate developer Bruce Isackson and his wife Davina who admitted paying more than a quarter million dollars in Facebook stock to bribe a soccer coach to get their daughter, Lauren, into UCLA.
In a statement, the Isacksons said they were “profoundly sorry” adding “our duty as parents was to set a good example for our children and instead we have harmed and embarrassed them by our misguided decisions.”
All of the defendants will have to return to Boston to enter formal guilty pleas. A source with knowledge of the probe says there are dozens of other parents under investigation in California alone whose names have not yet been made public.