In 2019, the entertainment industry was rocked by an embarrassing college admissions scandal dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” This made national headlines and implicated Felicity Huffman – best known for her roles on “Desperate Housewives” (and later “American Crime”). We’ll examine what led up to Huffman’s arrest as well as its effect on her career.
The College Admissions Scandal
Operation Varsity Blues was an investigation by the federal government into widespread college admissions fraud involving wealthy parents, coaches and administrators. Rick Singer masterminded this scheme to enable children from affluent families to gain admission to elite universities through deceptive means such as cheating on standardized exams and fabricating athletic credentials.
Felicity Huffman and Her Involvement
Felicity Huffman was among the 50 people charged in the scandal. She admitted paying $15,000 to Singer’s Key Worldwide Foundation, which then organized for Singer’s daughter’s SAT exam to be corrected by an expert. As such, Huffman’s actions were intended to boost her chances of acceptance into a prestigious university.
The Legal Fallout
Huffman was accused of conspiring to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud in May 2019. She pleaded guilty and expressed “deep regret” for her actions, leading up to a sentence in September 2019 of 14 days imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release with 250 hours community service as well as a $30,000 fine.
On October 15th, Huffman reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California to begin her 14-day sentence. After serving 11 days, she was released on October 25th due to a standard policy which allows inmates to leave on Friday before their release date if it falls during a weekend. Huffman’s relatively brief imprisonment garnered media attention; some critics claimed her punishment was too light given her severity.
Impact on Felicity Huffman Career and Public Image
Huffman’s career and public image were severely impacted by the scandal. Netflix delayed the release of “Otherhood,” while Huffman was barred from casting other projects. She faced intense public scrutiny and backlash in the wake of her actions; many questioned her integrity and expressed disappointment in them.
Huffman’s public profile has remained low since her release from prison. However, in August 2021 she announced her return to acting with “The Big Leap,” an ABC comedy pilot. In it she plays a woman trying to regain her life after being imprisoned in a white-collar offense. While some see this as an act of redemption, others feel it is too soon for a comeback.
The Felicity Huffman scandal serves as a cautionary tale about wealth, privilege and the pressure to succeed. Though she was only sentenced for a short time, her actions had lasting repercussions on both her career and public image. It remains uncertain if Huffman will return to entertainment or if Operation Varsity Blues will continue to shadow her career and personal life.