Hot Pockets Heiress Gets 5 Months in Prison for Paying $300,000 in Bribes in College Admissions Scam

Laura Barcella

After paying $300,000 in fraudulent schemes to help get her two daughters into prominent colleges, Hot Pockets heiress Michelle Janavs, 49, was sentenced on Tuesday to 5 months in prison.

Janavs, of Newport Coast, California, was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine, according to a statement from the Department of Justice announcing the woman’s Boston sentencing.

Janavs’ family initially developed the popular Hot Pockets grocery brand, but eventually sold the company. 

Last October, Janavs pleaded guilty 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.

Along with nearly two dozen other high-profile parents, like actress Felicity Huffman and, allegedly, Lori Loughlin, Janavs conspired with Rick Singer and others to help her kids win entrance into prestigious universities that may otherwise have been beyond reach.

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The DOJ’s statement reveals that Janavs paid a corrupt proctor in 2017 to “correct” one of her daughter’s answers on the ACT test, the DOJ release says. In 2019, Janavs’ younger daughter also took the ACT and had her test scores corrected after the fact by Mark Riddell, the corrupt proctor. (Riddell has since pled guilty to his role in the scandal, and awaits sentencing).

Janavs also paid $200,000 in 2018 to get her older daughter into the University of Southern California as a volleyball recruit, though the daughter didn’t play the sport.

Before she was sentenced on Tuesday, Janavs reportedly told the court she was sorry “that I tried to create an unfair advantage for my children.”

But U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton reminded her the “vast majority of parents do not brazenly try to push their kids in the side door” of universities via bribery. “They don’t love their children any less than you do. They just play by the rules of common decency and fair play,” he said, reports Boston.com.

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Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli are awaiting trial for their alleged crimes. The duo are accused of paying $500,000 to admissions consultant Rick Singer to falsely designate daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, 20, and Isabella Rose Giannulli, 21, as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, though neither actually participated in the sport.

Lori Loughlin and husband | TheImageDirect.com

In addition to charges of money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud, Loughlin and Giannulli were handed an additional federal charge in October: one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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For her part, in May, Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to paying Rick Singer $15,000 to have a proctor change daughter Sophia’s SAT answers after she took the test.

Felicity Huffman | TheImageDirect.com

Huffman was released from prison on October 25, after serving 11 days of a 14-day sentence.

Huffman also did community service at the Teen Project, a local rehab center for girls who have lived on the streets and who are trying to earn their GEDs.