The actress admitted to paying mastermind Rick Singer $15,000 to correct her daughter's SAT scores, one of his "side door" options for sneaking offspring of affluent parents into colleges.
Singer's scheme advised parents on how to secure extra time and private proctors to facilitate the cheating by feigning disabilities; however on Monday the "Desperate Housewives" star told the court her daughter Sofia Grace's learning disabilities were very real.
"My daughter has been seeing a neuro-psychologist since she was eight years old," she told US District Judge Indira Talwani through tears, adding the now-18-year-old had required extra time on tests since she was 11.
"I just didn't want to create the impression that the neuro-psychologist had any part in this because, like my daughter, she didn't have any knowledge of my involvement," she added.
"Everything else that Mr Rosen said I did, I did," she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told the court that as part of her plea deal, he will recommend four months in prison and a $20,000 fine for Huffman. She will be sentenced on September 13. The plea deal also dictates she cannot appeal the sentence or conviction.
The charges of committing mail fraud and honest services mail fraud carried a maximum sentence of 20 years. By pleading guilty — unlike fellow actress Lori Loughlin — she avoided the potential extra charge of money laundering, which carries the possibility of an additional 20 years behind bars.
According to the Justice Department, Felicity and her husband William H. Macy discussed using the scheme a second time for their younger daughter Georgia Grace, but ultimately decided against it. Macy was never charged.
In a statement last month, Huffman apologized to her daughter Sofia Grace for bringing her shame, insisting the teen knew nothing of the plot.
"I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions," she wrote.
"I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly."
She added: "My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty."
A total of 50 people were indicted in the scam; 33 parents and 17 organizers.