Mossimo Giannulli and wife Lori Loughlin face charges of conspiracy fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery

By Steve Helling
October 23, 2019 03:40 PM
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Mossimo Giannulli, the designer husband of actress Lori Loughlin, allegedly told his accountant he had to “work the system” to get his daughters into the University of Southern California, a federal indictment alleges.

Giannulli and Loughlin, who each face multiple federal charges in the college admissions scandal, allegedly sent incriminating emails that authorities say prove their collusion in fraudulently getting their daughters into the college.

Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to admissions consultant William Singer to falsely designate daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, 19, and Isabella Rose Giannulli, 20, as recruits to the USC crew team, though neither actually participated in the sport. (On Monday, the USC Registrar confirmed that the girls “are not currently enrolled” at the university.)

According to the indictment obtained by PEOPLE, the scam’s alleged mastermind, William “Rick” Singer, emailed the couple, saying he needed Isabella’s high school transcript and test scores “very soon while I create a coxswain portfolio for her.”

He added, “It would probably help to get a picture of her on an ERG in workout clothes like a real athlete.” An ERG is an indoor rowing machine used to train crew athletes.

“Fantastic,” Giannulli allegedly replied, according to the indictment. “Will get all.”

Credit: The Image Direct

The indictment alleges that after securing what Singer requested, Giannulli was presented with a $200,000 invoice. In April 2017, Giannulli allegedly forwarded that invoice to his accountant, the indictment alleges.

“Good news my daughter … is in (U)SC… bad is I had to work the system,” he allegedly wrote, according to the indictment.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release that Loughlin, Giannulli and nine other defendants “conspired to commit federal program bribery by bribing employees of the University of Southern California (USC) to facilitate their children’s admission.” They have been charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery.

Federal programs bribery is defined as theft or bribery of an organization that receives more than $10,000 in federal funds. According to the U.S. Penal Code, the charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison.

It was the latest charge in a months-long investigation against widespread corruption in the admissions department of several high-profile colleges.

On March 12, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts indicted Loughlin and Giannulli in the shocking nationwide scam as part of an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. Nearly 50 other parents, coaches, exam proctors and admissions counselors are accused of actions such as paying for boosted SAT scores and lying about students’ athletic skills in order to gain them acceptance to elite colleges including Yale, Georgetown, USC and Stanford.

Giannulli and Loughlin now face felony charges of conspiracy fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. In April, the couple rejected an offer for a deal from prosecutors. Currently, they are awaiting their trial after pleading not guilty. It is unclear when they will enter a plea to the latest charge.

In a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lellling said that the new charges have a goal of achieving justice. “Today’s charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case,” Lelling said. “Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort.”

Their new charges comes two months after a Loughlin legal source told PEOPLE at the end of August that no matter the outcome of their trail, the couple is committed to sticking together.

“Lori and Mossimo are united in this,” the legal source said.

“Lori is ready for this to be over,” the source added. “They all are. At this point it would be better to spend a few months in jail — because she’s been spending the last several months in her own prison.”