Designer Mossimo Giannulli Charged in ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ Scandal

One of the most notorious criminal cases of 2019 was the “Operation Varsity Blues” college-admissions scandal in which a number of wealthy parents were accused of crimes ranging from bribery to money laundering in a scheme to guarantee their children’s admission into renowned universities. On March 12, a criminal complaint was unsealed in a Boston federal court and included accusations from prosecutors in Massachusetts, California, Texas, Florida and North Carolina alleging that a number of academic-examination administrators and test takers, 13 coaches and 33 parents were involved in the scheme.

Two of those parents accused of, and later charged with, paying bribes were Los Angeles fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, founder of the Mossimo brand, and his actor wife, Lori Loughlin. While other parents attempted to purchase their children’s paths into schools including Yale University, Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles and Georgetown University, Giannulli and Loughlin were charged with paying $500,000 to secure admission into the University of Southern California for their two daughters, Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade.

Money-laundering charges filed on April 9 stemmed from contributions the couple made to a Newport Beach, Calif., nonprofit organization named the Key Worldwide Foundation. In tax documents, it is described as an association that helps underprivileged children gain access to otherwise unattainable options in education.

William “Rick” Singer, president of the Key Worldwide Foundation, is the consultant who coordinated with parents, coaches, and examination administrators and test takers in order to facilitate phony academic scores and extra-curricular participation for prospective university students.

In October, after maintaining their innocence in response to the previous charges of fraud and money laundering, Giannulli and Loughlin were charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. The couple pled not guilty to these new charges.