Giannulli sentenced to 5 months in prison for role in college admissions scandal

After an investigation revealed that Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin paid $500,000 to secure their daughters’ admission to USC, both parents faced up to 20 years of prison time. Giannulli will serve 5 months and Loughlin awaits her sentencing. (Daily Trojan file photo)

Fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, who earlier this year admitted to bribing admissions officials and procuring fake athletic recruiting profiles to have his two daughters attend USC, was sentenced Friday to five months in prison for his role in what a U.S. district court judge called “breathtaking fraud.” 

His wife, actress Lori Loughlin, will be sentenced Friday afternoon by the same judge, Nathaniel M. Gorton, in U.S. district court for her part in the admissions scandal. Loughlin could face up to 20 years in prison, though federal prosecutors have recommended the “Full House” actress be sentenced to two months as they believe she played a lesser role than her husband. 

Giannulli pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud Friday. After his release, Giannulli must also complete 250 hours of community service and pay a $250,000 fine. He must report to prison by Nov. 19. 

Giannulli and Loughlin accepted a plea deal in May and admitted to conspiring with college admissions scandal mastermind and real estate mogul William “Rick” Singer to have their two daughters admitted to USC. For months, the couple denied their role in the scheme, saying they believed the bribe money they paid in installments had been legitimate donations to the University. 

The couple paid $500,000 to secure their two daughters’ admission to USC. New documents also reveal that Olivia Jade, their younger daughter and a well-known YouTube personality, had known about the scheme and helped conceal information from her high school guidance counselor. Both daughters no longer attend USC. 

In March 2019, both parents were arrested after an investigation from the FBI called “Operation Varsity Blues” found that wealthy executives and celebrities paid university officials large sums of money to admit their children to elite schools under false pretenses. In early July, the U.S. Department of Justice approved the couple’s request to reduce their bond from $1 million to $100,000.

Though over 10 universities were implicated, USC was at the forefront of the scandal, having admitted the highest number of students through bribes and having some of the highest profile cases. In the wake of the scandal in March 2019, USC announced a variety of reforms related to increased oversight in the athletic admissions department and promptly fired those directly involved, including former senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel and former head water polo coach Jovan Vavic.

Since “Operation Varsity Blues,” USC parents involved in the scheme have faced a range of prison sentences. In late 2019, Devin Sloane, a USC parent who paid $250,000 for his son to be admitted has a fake water polo recruit, was sentenced to four months, and Jeffrey Bizzack, another USC parent who paid $250,000 for his son to be designated as a volleyball recruit, was sentenced to two months.

Loughlin is expected to be sentenced Friday.