Hot Pockets heiress sentenced to 5 months in prison

Hot Pockets heiress Michelle Janavs was sentenced to five months in prison Tuesday for her involvement in the college admissions scandal. Janavs paid $300,000 to falsify her two daughters’ ACT test scores and help her older daughter gain admission to USC as a false beach volleyball recruit in 2018.

Federal prosecutors had initially recommended a 21-month prison sentence for Janavs’ involvement in Operation Varsity Blues along with three years of supervised release and a $175,000 fine. Janavs was sentenced to two years of supervised release and has been fined $250,000, according to a release from the Department of Justice.  

Janavs pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Janavs’ defense filed a memorandum in court Thursday requesting probation in lieu of prison time, citing Janavs’ generosity and compassion. The memorandum quoted character references solicited from Janavs’ friends that portrayed her participation in the scandal as out of character. In the document, the defense stated that admissions scheme organizer William “Rick” Singer convinced Janavs that partaking in  it was the only way to secure her daughter’s admission to college.

According to the memorandum, the University rescinded Janavs’ oldest daughter’s offer of conditional admission and prohibited her from ever reapplying. USC said it was unable to comment on the status of her daughter’s admission or relationship with the University, citing student privacy laws.

Janavs’ oldest daughter withdrew from the other schools she applied to and enrolled in a community college, the memorandum stated. Both she and her younger sister were prohibited from attending events at their private high school after the scandal was released, and her sister enrolled at a public school.

Janavs began working with Singer in 2017 to falsify her oldest daughter’s ACT score. Her daughter took the exam at the West Hollywood Test Center, where Singer’s designated test administrator and proctor gave her extended time and corrected her answers. Her application to USC the following year included the falsified test score, according to court documents. Janavs also sought admission for her daughter as an athletic recruit. 

Court documents indicate that former senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel presented her athletic profile to the admissions subcommittee, falsely describing her as the winner of several California beach volleyball tournaments. Her daughter played indoor volleyball in high school but did not play competitive beach volleyball, according to documents.

Janavs also falsified her second daughter’s ACT score in 2018 after applying for extended time and paying Singer’s test-taker to correct her answers. The younger daughter, who was a junior when the scandal was made public, did not submit her ACT score to any colleges, according to the memorandum.

Former assistant women’s soccer coach Laura Janke will be sentenced in April for falsifying athletic recruitment profiles for seven college applicants, including five to USC. Prosecutors recommended a sentence at the lower end of the federal sentencing spectrum, according to the Department of Justice.

Five other parents involved in Operation Varsity Blues at USC have been sentenced since the scandal broke in March. Former Pimco executive Douglas Hodge was sentenced to nine months in prison earlier this month and was fined $750,000 for paying $850,000 to secure four of his children’s admissions to schools, including USC, as fake athletic recruits and attempting to secure his fifth child’s college admission. Of the 36 parents named in the admissions scandal, 19 are tied to USC.