Former Georgetown University parent Michelle Janavs was sentenced Tuesday for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as money laundering, becoming the third former Georgetown parent sentenced in the college admissions scandal.
Janavs, whose father and uncle founded Hot Pockets, was sentenced to five months in prison and two years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. Janavs pleaded guilty to paying $400,000 to have her son Grant Janavs (COL ’21) admitted to Georgetown as an unqualified tennis recruit, according to an April 2019 indictment.
Janavs also paid $200,000 to have one of her daughters admitted as a fake beach volleyball recruit to the University of Southern California. Janavs worked with Rick Singer, the ringleader of the national college admissions scandal, paying him $100,000 to provide a fraudulent test proctor for their ACT exams in 2017 and 2019.
Prosecutors charged Janavs in April 2019, to which Janavs initially pleaded not guilty. In October 2019, Janavs and three other former Georgetown parents switched their pleas to guilty. Prosecutors then recommended Janavs be sentenced with 21 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and a $175,000 fine.
Prosecutors for the case alleged Janavs was one of the most culpable parents in the admissions scandal, citing her repeated efforts over multiple years to help her children gain acceptance into both Georgetown and USC, according to CNN.
Janavs’ lawyer did not respond to request for comment.
The charges come as part of the ongoing “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, a national college admissions investigation that has exposed alleged misconduct by parents who sought to improve their children’s college admissions chances. Janavs is one of five Georgetown parents charged in the scandal.
Janavs conspired with former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst to have her son admitted as a fake tennis recruit to the university. Ernst reportedly accepted over $2.7 million in bribes to help 12 applicants get falsely designated as tennis recruits for the university.
The university first discovered Ernst’s actions in 2017 and took appropriate measures to ensure the integrity of the future of athletic recruitment at Georgetown, according to a university spokesperson.
“In 2017, Georgetown’s Admissions Office discovered irregularities in the athletic credentials of two students who were being recruited to play tennis. Neither student was admitted,” the university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya in October. “Georgetown immediately put former coach Gordon Ernst on leave, initiated an internal investigation, established a new policy concerning the recruitment of student athletes, implemented audits to check whether recruited student athletes are on team rosters, and asked Mr. Ernst to resign.”
Janavs joins other former Georgetown parents Douglas Hodge and Stephen Semprevivo in being sentenced for their roles in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal.
Hodge was given the longest sentence to date in the college admissions scandal Feb. 7 when a federal judge sentenced him to nine months in prison, two years of court supervision, 500 hours of community service as well as a $750,000 fine.
Hodge reportedly paid $325,000 to Ernst to get two of his children admitted to Georgetown as tennis recruits. Hodge additionally paid $525,000 in bribes to get two of his other children admitted to USC as football and soccer recruits. Hodge also unsuccessfully attempted to bribe coaches at Loyola Marymount University to have his fifth child admitted there.
Stephen Semprevivo was sentenced in September 2019 after being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud in March 2019. Stephen Semprevivo reportedly paid Ernst $400,000 to have his son, Adam Semprevivo, admitted as a fake tennis recruit. (Full disclosure: Adam Semprevivo formerly served as a cartoonist for The Hoya.)
Stephen Semprevivo was ultimately sentenced to four months in prison, two years of supervised release and 500 hours of community service and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. Georgetown formally dismissed Adam Semprevivo from the university and rescinded his admission in May 2019.Adam Semprevivo filed a lawsuit against the university after the announcement of his dismissal, claiming he was not aware of his father’s efforts to gain his admission to the university. Adam Semprevivo ultimately dismissed his lawsuit against the university.