Actress Felicity Huffman Pleads Guilty In College Admissions Scandal

Actress Felicity Huffman is escorted by Police into court where she is expected to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud before Judge Talwani at John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, May 13, 2019. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

American actress Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty on Monday for paying bribes to help her daughter gain admission to a prestigious university, avoiding what was sure to be a well-publicized trial and probably also dodging jail time.

The former “Desperate Housewives” star was the latest celebrity brought down by the wide-ranging college bribery scandal that’s snared a slew of wealthy American parents.

In a tearful appearance before federal judge Indira Talwani in Boston, Huffman pled guilty to paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.

The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, but by admitting guilt Huffman will likely avoid those penalties.

Federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence of a year’s probation and a $20,000 fine, though the judge can modify the penalty if she pleases.

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Huffman announced her intention to plead guilty last month, saying she was “ashamed” of what she had done. Sentencing is scheduled for September 13, US attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said.

Among the 50 people charged in the admissions scandal — a group that includes CEOs and partners at major law firms — 10 have already pled guilty, including five parents.

Another 10 parents have said they will also plead guilty in the scandal that saw some of the accused pay as much as $400,000 to get their children into their chosen college.

The ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

AFP

New York Bomber Found Guilty On All Charges

This file photo taken on October 13, 2016 shows bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi attending the first court hearing on screen in Elizabeth, New Jersey while he remains in University Hospital in Newark. KENA BETANCUR / AFP

A New York jury on Monday convicted an American of Afghan descent for a bombing that wounded 31 people last year in a bustling Manhattan neighborhood.

Ahmad Khan Rahimi, 29, was found guilty on all eight counts linked to the homemade bombs he was accused of planting in Manhattan as well as New Jersey.

Rahimi faces a mandatory life term in prison when he is sentenced on January 18.

Following the two-week trial, the federal court jury rapidly returned its verdict on the charges, which included the use of a weapon of mass destruction and the bombing of a public place.

During the trial, a prosecutor called it a “miracle” that nobody was killed on the chaotic night of September 17, 2016.

One bomb exploded in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, lightly wounding 31 people.

Police defused a second device in Chelsea and found five additional pipe bombs in Rahimi’s hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

The prosecution said police discovered a notebook containing references to slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the Islamic State group after arresting Rahimi.

The FBI believes Rahimi acted alone and is not connected to any extremist groups.

“He believed he was a soldier in a holy war against America, and New Jersey and New York City was his battling ground,” Assistant US Attorney Shawn Crowley said during the trial.

Rahimi’s fingerprints were found on the debris of the bomb that exploded, while the unexploded munitions revealed “more than 40” of his other fingerprints, the prosecution said.

The bearded Rahimi pleaded not guilty.

He was seriously wounded in a shootout with police that culminated in his arrest two days after the blast.

New York Police chief James O’Neill on Monday said the verdict “is the most forceful deterrent for anyone considering waging terror in our city.”

New York has stepped up security with police deployed in force at numerous public sites since the attacks of September 11, 2001, which left nearly 3,000 people dead.

AFP

Oregon Woman sentenced to jail for tax fraud

The State of Oregon in the United States of America has sentenced a 25 year old woman to five and a half years in prison after she pleaded guilty to three counts of felony fraud and a felony count of tax evasion.

Remorseful Krystle Marie Reyes admitted she had collected $2.1 million in tax refund from the State of Oregon and so far the State has recovered close to $1.9 million from the stated amount. Resigning to fate, Marie said she will be taking responsibility for her actions.

According to report, Marie received a refund on her debit card and lavished $150,000, after which she reported lost or stolen card twice, an incident that aroused the suspicion of the Oregon Department of Revenue.

Working at a retirement/care homes, Marie was reported to be earning less than $15,000 per year in 2009 and 2010 but her way of living escalated as she went on spending spree as she bought with cash a 1999 Dodge Caravan which cost $1,800 and $851 on tires and wheels.

Other purchases Marie made included a queen-sized air mattress, a deep fryer, an air conditioner and a cream and grey floral rug. She bought a sofa and recliner with brown leather trim.

It was further reported that Marie filed in January an electronic tax return where she made a request for refund of $2.1 million which automated system of Turbo tax red-flagged. She also claimed she had earnings of more than $3 million.

Due to the request being red-flagged, the request tagged a potential fraud by the processing staff and managers, it was also set aside for review but was later shelved by a Revenue employee who overrode the flagged and the refund was issued.

The return was set aside for review by processing staff and managers for potential fraud. But “sometime later,” the affidavit said, a Revenue employee overrode the flagged payment and the refund was issued.

According to card policy, at least three employees are required to give verification to the override but no one responsible for reviewing the return opened the file to look at it or looked at the W-2 form Reyes filed, the affidavit stated.