Former Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman appeared in a federal courtroom after being arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman was arrested as part of a sting that charged dozens of individuals in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college-entrance exams and falsely presented students as athletic recruits in order to obtain college admission. Huffman and Lori Loughlin, 54, a star of the Netflix series Fuller House, were two of the 50 people charged in the sting. Loughlin was not in court today as she was reportedly in Canada, although she is expected to be in custody tomorrow morning, according to the press spokesperson for Department of Justice.
Huffman, 56, had been been arrested earlier in the day and was held in custody until the bond hearing. She sat silently in the second row of the secured holding area in the courtroom, with the other defendants, guarded by U.S. federal marshals. Huffman sat directly behind another defendant, making it difficult for the 30 members of the media that had packed into the room to catch a glimpse of her.
Her husband, William H. Macy, dressed casually in a blue sweater, jeans, and hiking boots, sat in the front row of the courtroom beside the sketch artist waiting for the judge to call his wife’s case. Judge Alexander MacKinnon decided to call the lengthy list of defendants alphabetically so it was almost an hour and a half into the hearing before Huffman’s case was called.
Macy spent the time either sitting silently with his eyes closed or reading the indictment against his wife with a pen in his hand. When her case was called, Huffman stood at a microphone as her attorney argued she was not a flight risk. Her hair was parted in the middle and pulled in a low ponytail, and she wore a blue sweater over a white T-shirt. She answered “yes” quietly when asked if she understood the charges against her and whether she had read the complaint and charges against her.
Huffman’s attorney Evan Jenness argued to the judge that Huffman, as a mother of two, was not a flight risk and should be released on her own recognizance, saying she was the opposite of an “international fugitive.”
The prosecutor Adam Schleifer demanded that the judge impose a sizable bail before allowing her to be released. He argued that due to Huffman’s considerable wealth — $20 million in real-estate holdings alone — her bond should be set at $250,000. He said the court should also consider that Huffman has $4 million in liquid assets. He said the government has recorded conversations of Huffman that “speak to dishonesty and that is something the government takes seriously.”
Huffman’s attorney objected, arguing that her client should be released without posting any bail.
“She is simply not the kind of person … who is going to become an international fugitive over this matter,” said Jenness.
Schleifer objected and said that the crimes Huffman has been charged with show a determination “to part with money to get what one wants and to take a short cut.” He told the judge “there needs to be some consequences here.”
Ultimately, Judge McKinnon sided with the prosecution and decided to require Huffman to post a $250,000 bond, signed for by Macy. He also required her to surrender her passport. She was also ordered to not have any contact with any of the other co-defendants in the case.
The prosecutor also tried to ask the judge to include Macy in that no-contact order about discussing the case, saying that he was relevant to the the investigation. McKinnon declined the request and will allow Huffman to discuss her case with her husband.
Huffman’s next court appearance is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. EST on March 29 at the federal courthouse in Boston.
Updated 3/12 10:56 p.m.: Lori Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, 55, was also arrested in the sting and was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He was in court today for his bond hearing and later also released on bond.