Tuesday, October 27, 2020

U.S judge rejects Hot Pockets heiress request for house prison in college bribery scandal

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Hot Pockets heiress Michelle Janavs is headed to prison for her role in the college admissions bribery scandal after a Massachusetts judge ruled that she may not serve her five-month sentence at home.

Janavs filed a request earlier this month asking U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton asking if she was eligible for home confinement because of the coronavirus, which has swept through detention facilities in the U.S.

“The court would be required to balance the need to punish her and deter others with a short prison term against the risk that that term posed to her health, and possibly her life,” Janavs’s lawyers argued according to court documents.

Janavs was one of 33 parents indicted a year ago in a scheme to falsify their children’s qualifications for gaining admission to colleges. Janavs pleaded guilty in October 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.

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Janavs is a former executive at her family’s food manufacturing company, Chef America, which made Hot Pockets before it was sold to Nestle in 2002. Janavs’s father and uncle invented the snack, according to Bloomberg.

Gorton denied Janavs’s request to serve her sentence at home on Thursday, along with a similar request from Silicon Valley mother Elizabeth Henriquez, who is facing a seven-month sentence.

“Although the current public health crisis is not ended, it has abated and will likely to continue to abate over the next few months,” Gorton said in denying Janavs’s request. “If defendant Janavs prefers to postpone her report [to prison] date until August 31, 2020, the court will so order but it will not convert the sentence imposed to home confinement.”

Janavs began conspiring in 2017 to get her daughters into college with admissions scam mastermind Rick Singer, federal prosecutors said. In October of that year, her older daughter took the ACT entrance exam at a testing center that Singer controlled, where a “corrupt” proctor corrected her answers, prosecutors said. The following month, Janavs sent a $50,000 check to Singer’s fake charity.

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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, prosecutors said.

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