As the public waits to hear Felicity Huffman's sentence for her involvement in the "Varsity Blues" college admissions cheating scandal, "The View" co-hosts weighed in on Monday on the Oscar-nominated actor's letter to the court that defended her alleged actions and her plea for no jail time.
Huffman was among 14 defendants who pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in connection with a $15,000 payment she made to have her daughter's SAT score improved. According to court documents, Huffman admitted to giving $15,000 to alleged ringleader of the nationwide scam William "Rick" Singer "to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of their oldest daughter."
In a sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors on Friday, they wrote: "Huffman's conduct was deliberate and manifestly criminal: it was wrong, she knew it was wrong, and she actively participated in manipulating her daughter’s guidance counselor, the testing services and the schools to which her daughter applied."
Prosecutors recommended that the court sentence Huffman to a term of one month of incarceration, followed by 12 months of supervised release and a fine of $20,000.
Huffman's attorneys said in court documents on Friday that she was "remorseful — indeed deeply ashamed about what she did." Within the documents, there was also an emotional letter from Huffman.
"In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair," Huffman said in her letter to the court.
"My own fears and lack of confidence, combined with a daughter who has learning disabilities often made me insecure," the mother of two said of her eldest daughter, 19-year-old Sophia Grace Macy, who she claims has struggled with learning disabilities since the age of 4.
Co-host Sunny Hostin compared Huffman's case to that of homeless mother Tanya McDowell of Bridgeport, Connecticut. After McDowell allegedly sent her 6-year-old son to a school outside of her district, she was charged with first degree grand larceny and conspiracy for allegedly stealing educational services from Norwalk Public Schools. She was sentenced to five years in prison in 2012 for illegally enrolling her son in a school outside her district.
"The prosecutors are recommending one month and she's saying that that is too much time. That is not too much time," Hostin said of Huffman's possible sentence. "She's arguing, really, that this is a victimless crime, and it isn't because another kid didn't get into that school. Her kid took a seat that another kid deserved, and that's the problem. This judge has to send a message to the community that this is not right. She had wealth, privilege and a platform, and she didn’t use it appropriately."
"Let's face it. She's rich, she's entitled and she tried to game the system," co-host Joy Behar said of Huffman's alleged actions. "Them's the facts."
Noting that she's the only co-host on "The View" who doesn't have a child, co-host Meghan McCain said that "struggling to be a mom doesn't mean you break the law."
"They are the poster children for what everyone hates about white privilege and she deserves to go to jail...for a long period of time — for over a month," McCain said.
Along with Huffman's letter pleading for a lesser sentence, the documents filed by Huffman's attorneys also included numerous other letters of support, including one from her husband, actor William H. Macy.
In Macy's letter, he wrote that Sophia Grace Macy "still doesn’t like to sleep alone and has nightmares from FBI agents waking her that morning with guns drawn. He added that after their youngest daughter, Georgia Grace Macy, watched "six FBI agents put her handcuffed Mom into a car and drive her away, she cried."
Macy concluded his letter, writing that "every good thing in my life is because of Felicity Huffman."
Hostin said it was a "problem" that Macy mentioned how the FBI raid affected his daughters.
"He sort of makes this argument that we are not that kind of criminal," Hostin said. "And so, it's yet again this sort of privilege, like, 'Don't treat us like that.'"
"You are a criminal. You’ve pled guilty and that's not going to ring well for the judge either," Hostin continued. "I mean, what kind of criminal are you? Shouldn't you be treated the same as any other criminal?"
Behar also spoke about Macy's letter, saying, "This whole wrap that the husband is giving about how hard it was to be a mother or something, welcome to the club, okay? Who wrote that speech? It's, like, out of 'Desperate Housewives.'"
"When we were children, you didn't do that," co-host Whoopi Goldberg said of the college admission scandal. "You did the work and you got what you got."
"We’ve made it OK for them," Goldberg added. "Maybe it's time to take that back and start making consequences matter."
Huffman, who will be the first parent charged in the scam to be sentenced, will receive her sentence on Sept. 13.
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