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Federal Prosecutors Announce Guilty Pleas In College Admissions Scandal

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In some other news, federal prosecutors say 13 parents charged in a college admissions scandal have agreed to plead guilty in Boston federal court. Also pleading guilty is a former coach at the University of Texas at Austin. He is admitting he took bribes to accept a student on the tennis team.

Fred Thys from member station WBUR in Boston has more.

FRED THYS, BYLINE: One of the parents is actor Felicity Huffman. She's admitting she paid $15,000 to have someone else take her daughter's SAT exam. Huffman sent a letter to several media outlets in which she says, with deep regret and shame over what I've done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.

The maximum penalty for the charge to which she's pleading guilty is 20 years in prison. But prosecutors are recommending Huffman serve a much lower sentence, in part because she's admitting her guilt. Law professor Douglas Berman teaches sentencing at Ohio State University.

DOUGLAS BERMAN: The government runs the numbers, so to speak, to result in a recommended sentencing range of four to 10 months of imprisonment, though they also say that they would only recommend the bottom of that range. So in a sense, they're calling for four months.

THYS: Huffman's attorneys are expected to ask for no prison time. The scandal has rocked the world of college admissions. Arun Ponnusamy, the chief academic officer of Collegewise, a national private college counseling service, says the lesson from this is much bigger than - parents should not bribe their children's way into college.

ARUN PONNUSAMY: I think the great lesson is to kind of let everyone kind of step back and think about, you know - what is the purpose of a college education, you know? What's the power of it transforming your life and who you can become?

THYS: No students have been prosecuted so far. But last week, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, said he and his prosecutors are still discussing whether to press charges against some students.

For NPR News, I'm Fred Thys in Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOE'S "TREMOLO AND DELAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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