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Hot Pockets Heiress Sentenced for College Admissions Bribery

Michelle Janavs gets five months behind bars
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 25, 2020 4:27 PM CST

(Newser) – An heir to the Hot Pockets fortune was sentenced to five months in prison Tuesday for trying to cheat and bribe her daughters' way into school as part of a nationwide college admissions scam, the AP reports. Michelle Janavs, whose father and uncle invented the microwaveable Hot Pockets turnovers before selling their company to Nestle for more than $2 billion in 2002, showed no emotion as the judge delivered his sentence after she apologized for abandoning her moral compass and hurting her family and friends. “I am so very sorry that I tried to create an unfair advantage for my children,” she said. The judge told Janavs that prison time was needed to deter others who might have the gall to use their wealth to break the law and dismissed her argument that her actions were motivated by a love for her children.

The “vast majority of parents do not brazenly try to push their kids in the side door” of universities through bribery, US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said. “They don’t love their children any less than you do. They just play by the rules of common decency and fair play.” Janavs, of Newport Coast, California, is among nearly two dozen prominent parents (including Felicity Huffman) who have admitted to participating in the scheme by paying huge sums to people willing to cheat on entrance exams for their children or pretend their kids were star athletes for sports they didn't play; 15 other parents, including Lori Loughlin, are fighting the charges. Janavs admitted to paying the consultant at the center of the scheme, Rick Singer, $100,000 to have a proctor correct her two daughters' ACT exam answers. She also agreed to pay $200,000 to have one of her daughters labeled as a fake beach volleyball recruit at the University of Southern California but was arrested before the girl was formally admitted, prosecutors said.

(Read more college admissions bribery scandal stories.)

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