Even now, almost a year into the college admissions scandal, it’s difficult to fathom why rich and famous people brazenly cheat their kids’ way into a Georgetown or USC.

But the case of Michelle Janavs, a.k.a. the Hot Pockets Heiress, just might top them all.

To prosecutors, Janavs was just another ultra-rich parent who wielded her wealth to rig the system at other kids’ expense.

To her lawyers, she was a sheltered, gullible mother who fell for the siren call of the admissions adviser at the center of the so-called Varsity Blues scandal.

What’s undoubtedly clear is that Janavs is the heir to a great immigrant success story: the Hot Pocket, that crispy on the outside, warm and oozing on the inside microwavable pizza-like culinary convenience that’s been around since the early 1980s.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston sentenced Janavs to five months in prison after she pleaded guilty to rigging her daughters’ standardized test scores and fraudulently posing one as a beach volleyball recruit to her alma mater, the University of Southern California.

Her actions damaged “the entire system of education in this country,” Gorton said in handing down the sentence. “The monetary value of the harm she caused is incalculable.”

Prosecutors had sought 21 months in prison, saying Janavs was a repeated and active participant in the scheme. The judge said he would have sentenced her to a year had it not been for “your heartfelt remorse” and “good deeds.”

Her attorneys had argued that the 49-year-old took “full responsibility for her actions.” Imprisoning her wouldn’t have a deterrent effect as her “path from well-respected mother and philanthropist to scorned felon is on display for everyone to see,” the lawyers wrote last week.

Since Operation Varsity Blues laid bare the machinations behind admissions -- and, with it, the anxiety of parents rich or not -- one of the most curious aspects is why extraordinarily wealthy people resorted to illegal “side doors” rather than just relying on generous donations to secure spots for their children. Former Pimco Chief Executive Officer Douglas Hodge admitted to paying $850,000. Former TPG executive William McGlashan allegedly paid $50,000. He’s fighting the charges.

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