Felicity Huffman says she 'had to break law' in college admissions scandal to 'give my daughter a future'

Felicity Huffman is addressing her role in the college admissions scandal for the first time. 

"It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future," Huffman told ABC. "And so it was sort of like my daughter's future — which meant I had to break the law."

In May 2019, Huffman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She confessed to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter's answers on the SAT. 

FILE - Felicity Huffman and husband William Macy exit John Moakley U.S. Courthouse where Huffman received a 14 day sentence for her role in the college admissions scandal on Sept. 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

The "Desperate Housewives" star recalled feeling anxious about her actions as she drove her daughter to take the SAT in December 2017.

"She was going, 'Can we get ice cream afterwards?'" Huffman remembered. "'I'm scared about the test. What can we do that's fun?' And I kept thinking, ‘turn around, just turn around.’ And to my undying shame, I didn't."

Earlier this year, Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the "Operation Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal, was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

The 62-year-old businessman from Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

"After a year, he started to say, ‘Your daughter is not going to get into any of the colleges that she wants to,’" Huffman added.

"And I believed him. And so when he slowly started to present the criminal scheme, it seems like — and I know this seems crazy at the time — that was my only option to give my daughter a future."


Huffman continued, "And I know hindsight is 20/20, but it felt like I would be a bad mother if I didn't do it. So, I did it."

The scandal, which involved people such as "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, along with Huffman, helped deep-pocketed parents get their children into some of the nation's most selective schools despite poor test scores.

The Oscar-nominated actress went on to reflect on the moment the FBI was knocking at her door as the scandal unfolded. 

FILE - Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, right, leave the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston on Aug. 27, 2019. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

"They came into my home. They woke my daughters up at gunpoint. Again, nothing new to the Black and Brown community. Then they put my hands behind my back and handcuffed me and I asked if I could get dressed," she said. 


"I thought it was a hoax. I literally turned to one of the FBI people, in a flak jacket and a gun, and I went, ‘Is this a joke?’"

Huffman pleaded guilty to federal charges in May 2019. In addition to serving 11 days in prison, Huffman also received one year of probation and was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and pay a $30,000 fine.

FILE - Actress Felicity Huffman, escorted by her husband William H. Macy, exits the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, where she was sentenced by Judge Talwani for her role in the College Admissions scandal on Sept. 13, 2019. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

"I think the people I owe a debt and apology to is the academic community. And to the students and the families that sacrifice and work really hard to get to where they are going legitimately," she said.

After the college admissions scandal that shocked the nation, Huffman explained why she decided to come forward four years later after she served time in prison. 


"I want to use my experience and what I've gone through and the pain to bring something good, which is to shine a light on Susan Burton's organization called A New Way of Life," she said.

Despite the college admissions scandal, Huffman and "Shameless" star William H. Macy’s oldest daughter, Sophia Macy, was accepted into a top university for drama.

In 2020, Sophia quietly announced the news by updating her Instagram bio to read "CMU Drama '24," which reportedly stands for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

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