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Felicity Huffman to plead guilty in college admissions scam

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BOSTON — Actress Felicity Huffman is scheduled to plead guilty Monday to allegations she paid $15,000 to rig her daughter’s SAT score as part of a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme.

The “Desperate Housewives” star is expected to enter her plea in Boston federal court two months after she was arrested in the case named “Operation Varsity Blues,” which accused wealthy parents of paying bribes to help their children get into elite universities across the country.

Huffman, 56, is among 14 parents who have agreed to plead guilty to charges in the case. Authorities have called it the biggest college admissions cheating scandal ever prosecuted in the U.S., ensnaring Hollywood stars and business executives as well as coaches at such prestigious schools as Georgetown and Yale.

The parents are accused of paying an admissions consultant to bribe coaches in exchange for helping their children get into school as athletic recruits. The consultant, Rick Singer, also paid off entrance exam administrators to allow a proctor to take tests for students or fix their answers, authorities say.

Huffman paid Singer $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter’s SAT answers and considered going through with the plan for her younger daughter before deciding not to, authorities say.

Huffman has apologized and said her daughter was unaware of her actions.

“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,” the Emmy-winning actress said in an emailed statement last month.

Huffman has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Prosecutors have said they will seek between four and 10 months in prison. Because Huffman agreed to plead guilty, prosecutors have promised to recommend a sentence at the low end of that range, but the judge could also choose not to send her to prison.

Some parents have decided to fight the charges.

Fellow actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither of them is a rower.

Also scheduled to plead guilty Monday is Los Angeles businessman Devin Sloane, who authorities say paid $250,000 to get his son into USC as a fake water polo recruit.

Sloane, who founded a drinking and wastewater systems company, bought water polo gear online and worked with a graphic designer to create a bogus photo of his son playing the sport for the teen’s application, officials say.

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Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkinricher

Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press

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Feds, Quebec launch talks on keeping military in long-term care facilities

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Ottawa and Quebec have started talking about the future of military in long-term care homes after the province called for the Canadian Armed Forces to stay in nearly two dozen facilities until September.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has asked the military to remain an additional four months so the province can hire and train thousands more workers to take over when the troops leave.

Yet the request has raised questions about the sustainability of keeping hundreds of trained military medical personnel in the homes for another four months — and what other options might be available.

Senior federal government officials who spoke the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks say Ottawa is looking at whether the Canadian Red Cross can shoulder some of the burden and whether there are ways to speed up the hiring of workers in Quebec.

The Canadian Armed Forces have almost 1,800 members deployed to support long-term care homes in Quebec and Ontario hit hard by COVID-19, with the majority in 23 Quebec facilities.

The military this week released explosive reports on what troops found in some of the homes after arriving last month, with troops alleging a notable lack of trained medical personnel in Quebec facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Opposition parties call on Liberals to restore human-trafficking victims fund

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OTTAWA — Members of Parliament from every opposition party have joined together to call on the Liberal government to reverse its decision to allow funding to expire for programs that help victims of human trafficking in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MPs say without funding from Ottawa, these organizations will no longer be able to offer their specialized assistance to these women and girls who the ongoing pandemic has made even more vulnerable.

These organizations had been receiving funding through a five-year federal program, which ended in March 2020, that was set up by the former Conservative government alongside efforts to reform Canada’s prostitution laws.

That program is being replaced by a new national strategy to combat human trafficking, but that funding has not yet started to roll out.

This has left groups that help victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation with a gap in funding since March, with no clear idea of when new money will be made available.

A group of four MPs — from the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Greens — sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other ministers responsible for this file, urging them to restore funding to these groups and enable them to continue their work.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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may, 2020

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