Lighter sentence for US actress Huffman sparks outrage

A lighter sentence awarded by a Massachusetts court to actress Felicity Huffman, above, has raised the question whether the US has two judicial systems — one for the rich and famous and the other for the rest.

Federal Judge Indira Talwani on Friday sentenced Huffman to 14 days in prison for paying a fixer, William ‘Rick’ Singer, $15,000 to improve her daughter’s SAT scores so that the girl gets admission in the college of her choice.

Huffman, the winner of Emmy and Golden Globe awards, will start her jail time on Oct 25. The sentence also includes 12 months of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and $30,000 fine.

Huffman’s request to be spared jail time was earlier rejected by the judge.

Soon after the court ruling, social media users wrote about others caught in a similar case in the past but were not so lucky like Huffman.

Tanya McDowell, a black woman from Connecticut, was awarded a five-year jail term in 2010 for using a friend’s address to enrol her son in a better school. According to reports, McDowell was then homeless.

Kelley Williams-Bolar, another black and underprivileged woman from Ohio, had to spend 10 days in jail, undergo three years’ probation and pay a fine of $70,000 for using her father’s address to enrol her child in a better school.

A homeless and mentally black man was jailed for four years for shoplifting four pairs of socks from a luxury department store in Manhattan in 2017.

Recently, a man was sentenced to 30 days in Rikers Island, home to New York City’s main jail complex, for stealing a loaf of bread.

Huffman is the first parent to be sentenced in a college admission scandal called Operation: Varsity Blues which broke in April.

Singer, the man behind the scandal, laundered money through his Key Worldwide Foundation based in southern California.

According to federal prosecutors, the foundation, posing as a charity, took some $25 million in bribes from parents to get their children admission in educational institutions of their choice. Singer received the bribes as ‘donations’ for his charity.

Besides Huffman, some 32 families were charged with bribing Singer to boost their children’s SAT and ACT scores.