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Felicity Huffman explains why she ‘had to break the law’ in 1st interview since college admissions scandal

The "Desperate Housewives" actor pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2019 and served 11 days in prison.
/ Source: TODAY

As Felicity Huffman was driving her daughter to take her SAT test in 2017, she said she was having second thoughts and anxiety about having paid a man to boost her daughter's scores on the test.

Huffman addressed her role in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal, where she pleaded guilty in 2019 to paying a fixer $15,000 to falsify her daughter's test results, in an interview with ABC 7 News aired on Nov. 30.

"It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future," Huffman, who served 11 days in prison for her role in the crime, said. "And so it was sort of like my daughter’s future, which meant I had to break the law."

The "Desperate Housewives" actor spoke about the scandal for the first time in the interview, and recalled driving her unknowing daughter to take the test six years ago.

"She was going, 'Can we get ice cream afterwards?'" Huffman said. "'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."

The Operation Varsity Blues investigation centered around a scheme run by former college admissions consultant Rick Singer. More than 30 wealthy parents faced federal charges, including actor Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, and dozens of parents were accused of conspiring to use bribery and fraud to get their children into top colleges.

After pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and other charges in connection with the scandal, plus cooperating with the federal investigation, Singer was sentenced to 3½ years in prison earlier this year.

Huffman said she didn't reach out to Singer with the intention to break the law, but after about a year, he told her that her daughter was "not going to get into any of the colleges she wants to."

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

She added: "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."

Within months, the FBI was at her door in the middle of the night, Huffman said.

"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.

The scene felt unreal and left her stunned, Huffman said.

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

Huffman shares two children with husband William H. Macy. Macy was not charged in connection with Operation Varsity Blues.

ABC 7 reported their daughter was rejected from every college she applied to during the scandal, though she did re-take the SAT and gained acceptance to the drama program at Carnegie Mellon University.