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William H. Macy uttered a no comment Tuesday as he made his way into a federal courthouse in downtown L.A. for his wife Felicity Huffman’s arraignment for being part of the widespread college admissions scheme.
The Shameless actor, who turned 69 today, sat in the front row at the Desperate Housewives alum’s hearing, listening as bond was set at $250,000 due to her sizable assets (federal prosecutors said she has $20 million in real estate and $4 million in liquid securities). Macy had his head down only lifting it to “raise his hand when asked by the judge whether he was in the courtroom, and to hand over his driver’s license and other ID for verification as part of the bail co-signing,” according to Deadline. It was quite a day for the couple, who have spoken about their “fairytale” marriage and parenting their two daughters, Sophia, 18, and Georgia, 16. At 6 a.m. that morning, seven F.B.I. agents appeared at their door, guns drawn, to arrest Huffman. The couple had been asleep inside along with their kids, TMZ reported.
While Huffman is the one charged — accused of paying $15,000 to have someone fraudulently boost her elder daughter’s SAT score in part of a massive scheme that led to 46 additional arrests, including fellow actor Lori Loughlin and her designer husband Mossimo Giannulli — Macy, identified just as “spouse” in the criminal complaint, which is quite a read (Huffman’s part starts on page 72), wasn’t despite seemingly having a role in the fraud. That’s led people to ask: Why?
It’s true — Macy is all over the complaint, from top to bottom. “As set forth below, HUFFMAN and her spouse made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 to Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter,” it said.
The complaint also detailed a meeting the couple had with William Rick Singer, the alleged mastermind of the $25 million scam. “CW-1 met with HUFFMAN and her spouse in their Los Angeles home and explained, in substance, how the college entrance exam scheme worked,” it said. “He advised HUFFMAN and her spouse that he ‘controlled’ a testing center, and could arrange for a third party to purport to proctor their daughter’s SAT and secretly correct her answers afterwards. CW-1 has advised investigators that HUFFMAN and her spouse agreed to the plan.”
According to the complaint, Macy also discussed via telephone executing the same plan for their younger daughter. However, “Ultimately, HUFFMAN and her spouse decided not to pursue the SAT cheating scheme” a second time, the papers stated.
While a spokesperson for the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office said she “cannot comment on charging decisions,” there is certainly speculation about it among legal experts.
New York Magazine’s Vulture spoke with New York Law School professor and former prosecutor Rebecca Roiphe, who said that one of several possibilities is simply that Macy “is far less culpable. Maybe it’s possible that the government has far more evidence than it’s laid out here, and in this evidence, that Huffman played a far more significant role than her husband.”
Meanwhile, criminal attorney Murray Richman told the website, “If there’s no active participation in the wrongdoing, the spouse will not be charged. Mere knowledge, even with the presence, does not constitute criminal conduct… They will not be charged if it’s mere allegations unsubstantiated with significant proof.”
Several lawyers Yahoo Entertainment reached out to didn’t want to speculate about why Macy wasn’t charged. It was noted, however, that it’s early in the case.
As for whether Huffman — as well as Fuller House star Loughlin, who was in court on Wednesday — will ultimately have to serve prison time themselves, People magazine’s legal expert, Atlantic City-based lawyer James J. Leonard Jr., says it’s not likely.
“This is a federal prosecution brought forth by the Department of Justice that carries with it potential life-altering consequences for those involved. The stakes could not be higher,” Leonard said. “A custodial term is always a possibility when you are charged with felonies. The question to ask is if it’s a probability, and in this case I don’t see it as a probability with respect to the parents involved.”
He added, “At the end of the day, we are talking about parents who tried to help their children. And crossed the line in doing so.”
Meanwhile, Sophia, who attends an L.A. performing arts high school, isn’t facing charges either — and it’s unclear whether she was even aware that the whole scam was orchestrated. According to the complaint, she received a 1420 on her SATs — a 400 point increase from her PSATs — after taking the test with a proctor who was allegedly in on the scam.
A spokesperson for the Huffman-Macy camp hasn’t responded to our numerous requests for comment. Huffman, who is barred from traveling outside of the continental U.S., has her court date scheduled set for March 29 in Boston.
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