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Hot Pockets heiress sentenced in college admissions scandal

Lawyer: Admissions scandal is a wake-up call

A 49-year-old heiress to the Hot Pockets fortune was sentenced Tuesday to five months in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. Michelle Janavs also faces two years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The sentence comes after Janavs pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Prosecutors recommended a heavier sentence of 21 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and a $175,000 fine.  

Janavs is a former executive at her family's food manufacturing company, Chef America Inc., which made Hot Pockets before it was bought out by Nestle for $2.6 billion in 2002.

Janavs began conspiring in 2017 to get her daughters into college with admissions scam mastermind Rick Singer, according to the press release. In October of that year, her older daughter took the ACT at a testing center Singer controlled, where a "corrupt" proctor corrected her answers. The following month, Janavs sent a $50,000 check to Singer's fake charity. 

In 2018, Janavs and Singer agreed that she would pay an additional $200,000 to ensure the daughter's admission to the University of Southern California as a fake volleyball recruit, according to the release. She emailed Singer photos of the girl playing volleyball to help him create a fake athletic profile. 

In October of that year, USC athletics administrator Donna Heinel gained approval from the school to admit Janavs' daughter, the release said. Later that month, Janavs sent Heinel a $50,000 check for USC Women's Volleyball.

The college admissions scandal was uncovered last March, and Janavs was arrested before her older daughter was formally admitted to USC — meaning she never paid the remaining $150,000.   

Heinel, who faces charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, has pleaded not guilty, according to the DOJ

In February 2019, prior to her arrest, Janavs and Singer went through a similar process for her younger daughter: The teen took the ACT, and a bribed proctor corrected her answers. Later that month, Janavs wired $25,000 to the charity and mailed a $25,000 check.

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