Actress Lori Loughlin and designer husband Mossimo Giannulli “rejected” a “legitimate approach” to help get one of their daughters into college — and instead opted to pay bribes as part of the massive college admissions scandal, according to prosecutors.
Giannulli, 56, allegedly “rebuffed” a University of Southern California development official’s offer in 2016 to “flag” the college application of the couple’s older daughter, Isabella Rose Giannulli, the feds said in court documents filed Tuesday.
“I think we are squared away,” Mossimo wrote in a Sept. 27, 2016 email to the official and then forwarded that email to his wife, writing: “The nicest I’ve been at blowing somebody off,” according to the court papers.
Prosecutors said the celebrity couple argues that “universities — as part of their legitimate admissions process — regularly solicit donations from the families of prospective students, and … such donations can have a material effect on admissions decisions.”
But the couple “specifically rejected this ‘legitimate’ approach” when their daughter Isabella Rose was applying to the school in 2016, according to prosecutors.
The Boston federal court documents also detail how Loughlin, 55, and her husband began working with now-notorious scandal mastermind William “Rick” Singer in the summer of 2015.
By April 2016, Mossimo and Singer had discussed a “game plan” in order “to secure the admission of the Giannullis’ older daughter to USC,” the papers state.
Four months later, Singer told the couple that he would “create a coxswain profile” for Isabella Rose and “noted that ‘it would probably help to get a picture with her on an ERG in workout clothes like a real athlete too,” emails say, according to the court documents.
Prosecutors note in the documents that Isabella Rose “did not row crew, and was not a coxswain.”
“Yet, Giannulli, copying Loughlin replied, ‘Fantastic. Will get all,’” prosecutors say, adding that Mossimo later emailed Singer a snap of his daughter “posing on an ergometer.”
Singer then sent “a falsified athletic profile that including this picture” to Donna Heinel, the former senior associate athletic director for USC,” the court papers state.
“In October 2016, after Heinel secured the Giannullis’ daughter’s conditional admission as a recruited crew coxswain — without telling the subcommittee on athletic admissions that she had done so in exchange for a payment to a fund she had designated, or that the applicant was not, in fact, a coxswain — Singer instructed Giannulli to send Heinel a check in the amount of $50,000, payable to ‘USC Athletics,’” according to the documents.
The couple also wired Singer $200,000 through his phony charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, and in the same day “agreed to re-engage Singer to pursue their younger daughter’s admission to USC,” prosecutors say.
The documents detail how in July 2017, Singer emailed the couple “to request a photograph for their younger daughter’s fake athletic profile, writing, ‘[i]f we want USC I will need a transcript, test scores and picture on the ERG.’”
The admission of the couple’s younger daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, was ultimately secured and the same collective $250,000 payment was made, prosecutors say.
After Singer emailed Mossimo a $200,000 invoice to the charity in Jan. 2018, Mossimo forwarded it to his financial adviser, writing, “the last college ‘donation’ for [my younger daughter]. Can’t I write this off?” according to the court papers.
Prosecutors also say in Oct. 2018, Singer – who at that point was cooperating with the FBI’s investigation into the scandal – was directed by federal agents to call Mossimo.
“In the call, which was consensually recorded, Giannulli confirmed his understanding that his two $200,000 payments to KWF were ‘goin[g] to Donna Heinel at USC to get the girls into USC, through crew;’ that the rowing information on his daughters’ athletic profiles was fabricated; and that Singer would falsely tell the IRS that the $400,000 was to ‘help underserved kids,’” the documents state.
Loughlin, Mossimo’s former “Full House” star wife, “subsequently made similar admissions,” according to prosecutors.
Loughlin and Mossimo have both been charged in the widespread college admissions scandal — that also ensnared actress Felicity Huffman. Both pleaded not guilty.
If convicted, they could each face up to 20 years in prison.
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