Money & Power

How Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy Became Involved the College Admissions Scandal

Huffman has been charged in the landmark "Operation Varsity Blues" investigation.

Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy's names are usually in the news for an acclaimed film role—or even an endearing red carpet pose. This week, however, that isn't the case.

News broke on Tuesday morning that Huffman was charged in the Justice Department's investigation into rigging college admissions. Nicknamed "Operation Varsity Blues," the probe concluded that numerous people had conspired "to use bribery and other forms of fraud" to get their kids into top colleges, according to court documents.

As of publishing, Huffman appeared in court, and posted a $250,000 bond. She has yet to enter a plea. For reasons still unclear, although Macy is referred to in the court filing, he was not charged.

Here's how Huffman, Macy, and their two daughters were ensnared in the landmark investigation.

The couple at the 2018 Emmy Awards.


The actress, best known for her work on Desperate Housewives and her Oscar-nominated turn in Transamerica, is accused of fixing the conditions for her older daughter Sofia's SAT test. She also allegedly explored inflating her younger daughter's score, before deciding against it.

Court documents reveal that William Singer, the central figure in the scandal, met with Huffman and William H. Macy in their home ahead of the December 2017 SAT. Singer "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."

The result? "Ultimately, Huffman’s daughter received a score of 1420 on the SAT, an improvement of approximately 400 points over her PSAT," per the Justice Department documents.

To pay for Singer's help, Huffman and Macy reportedly made a $15,000 donation to the Key Worldwide Foundation—a fake charity that Singer had founded. An employee at the foundation then sent a reply, "falsely stating that [the donation] would 'allow us to move forward with our plans to provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth," according to court documents.

The couple at the 2017 SAG Awards.


Macy, famous for acting in Fargo, Shameless, Boogie Nights, and numerous other movies and TV shows, has a less clear role in the scandal. He is mentioned in court documents as Huffman's spouse, but not by name, and was not charged.

At this point, it remains unclear why he was excluded from the indictments. Theories include that prosecutors may have been unsure if they had enough evidence to charge him, that he cooperated with agents, or that charges will be filed later. As Rebecca Roiphe, a New York Law School professor and former prosecutor, floated to Vulture, it's also possible that Macy was simply "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."


Sofia, 18, seems to be following her parents' Hollywood path. "My daughter Sofia, the oldest, is going to LAHSA [Los Angeles High School of the Arts]," Macy told Parade in January. "She’s thriving there. I know she’s going to make a go of it in the business, which I support. I’ve seen her; she’s good, she’s really good."

Macy also addressed Sofia's college admissions process. "We’re right now in the thick of college application time, which is so stressful," he said, adding that she may want to take a gap year to further her acting career. "I am voting that once she gets accepted, she maybe takes a year off. God doesn’t let you be 18 twice. I know from casting, if you need a 25-, 26-year-old actress, there are a lot of them out there and they’re really good. But if you need a 15-, 16-year-old actress, it’s tough. Sofia looks young. I think this is an opportunity for her. But it’s just my opinion, and we’ll see what she wants to do, what Felicity thinks and how the chips fall."

It's unclear whether Sofia was aware that her parents had arranged to fix her SAT scores before the news broke on Tuesday.

Sofia Grace Macy, Georgia Grace Macy, William H. Macy, and Felicity Huffman at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.


Huffman and Macy's younger daughter Georgia, 16, has largely stayed out of the spotlight. Her father did give Parade a hint about what she was up to. "My daughter Georgia, she’s interested in politics, political science and pursuing that," he said. "She’s in a very academic school and killing it."

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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