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’s 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, Janavs will be sentenced in Boston after pleading 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.

Prosecutors are seeking 21 months in prison, saying she was a repeated and active participant in the scheme.

Her attorneys paint a different picture, arguing for leniency. While the 49-year-old takes “full responsibility for her actions,” imprisoning her won’t have a deterrent effect as “Michelle’s 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.

They are undoubtedly rich but not in the same realm as the Merage clan, with an estimated net worth of $4 billion, whose circle included people like Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani and institutions such as the University of California schools. In 2005, the University of California-Irvine’s business school renamed itself in honor of Janavs’s father after he donated $30 million.

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