How Lori Loughlin and Her Husband Mossimo Giannulli Became Involved in the College Admissions Scandal
It's been a while since Lori Loughlin, best known as the beloved Aunt Becky to the Tanner trio on Full House, has had her name in the headlines.
That all changed in mid-March, when news broke that Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were among those charged in a federal investigation. Nicknamed "Operation Varsity Blues," the probe concluded that numerous people had conspired "to use bribery and other forms of fraud" to get their kids into top colleges, according to court documents.
It was reported Wednesday morning that Loughlin had surrendered herself to authorities, and is expected to appear in court later today. For his part, Giannulli was arrested Tuesday, appeared in court that day, and was required to post a $1 million bond. Per the BBC, Giannulli had to put the family house up as collateral to cover the cost. Neither Loughlin nor Giannulli has had to enter a plea as of yet.
It was a long road to get here. Below, what Loughlin, Giannulli, and their two daughters have been up to since we last we saw Aunt Becky caring for D.J, Stephanie, and Michelle (aside from the Netflix reboot, that is).
Professionally, Loughlin has kept up a steady career as an actress, notably starring in over a dozen Garage Sale Mystery TV movies in the past few years. The IMBD synopsis is, admittedly, intriguing: "Jennifer Shannon is an antique store owner who has a keen eye for more than just collectibles. Much to her husband's dismay, her creative abilities often lead her into fatal situations."
Loughlin met her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, at a Los Angeles restaurant, per the Hollywood Reporter. The couple eloped in Newport Beach two years later, on a Thanksgiving Day in 1997.
They had their two daughters, Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade Giannulli, in 1998 and 1999 respectively.
The couple in 1996.
Giannulli's career began in earnest after he dropped out of USC—the very place he would later allegedly bribe his daughters' way into. He had launched his eponymous affordable fashion line, Mossimo, a year before leaving school in 1986. With a $100,000 loan from his father, Giannulli grew his men's streetwear business, eventually going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1996, after which the company's valuation reached $275 million.
In 2000, Giannulli worked with Target to get his wares on the retailer's shelves. That prosperous deal lasted until 2017, many years after Giannulli sold the company in 2006.
Giannulli has one son, Gianni Gene Giannulli, from a previous marriage.
Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin and Isabella Rose Giannulli attend a 2019 benefit gala.
ISABELLA ROSE GIANNULLI
Isabella, the elder daughter of Loughlin and Giannulli, has been pursuing a career in acting. She's appeared in two Christmas-themed TV movies alongside her mother, Homegrown Christmas and Every Christmas Has a Story. Like her sister, Isabella is active on social media. She's racked up over 261,000 followers on her Instagram—although it's currently set to private.
In an interview last year, Loughlin hinted that Isabella might enjoy acting more than academics. "She just finished her first year of college and she really enjoys it and I think she’ll get her degree," Loughlin told Salon. "And I just said to her, 'Look, have some back up plan. Get a degree and something else. You can study theater [and] whatever you need to also at school.' I think I’ve shown her and presented all the pitfalls that there might be."
The year before, Isabella and her mother went on the Today show, and discussed her post-college acting plans. When asked what type of work she was hoping for, Isabella told the hosts, "I just love all of it... I'd be happy to do anything." She also mentioned that Loughlin had "helped me with so many auditions also, which is so nice."
As the Justice Department indictment recently alleged, acting wasn't the only thing Isabella's parents helped her with. In April 2016, her father emailed William Singer, the man at the center of the current scandal, according to documents filed by the Justice Department. "We just met with [our older daughter’s] college counselor this am," he wrote. "I’d like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan and make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to [our daughter] and getting her into a school other than ASU!"
"If you want [U]SC I have the game plan ready to go into motion," Singer replied, per the court documents. "Call me to discuss."
Isabella's parents and Singer allegedly worked to get Isabella classified as a recruit for the crew team, despite the fact that she had no interest or experience in the sport. To pull it off, Loughlin and Giannulli reportedly paid $50,000 to bribe Donna Heinel, a senior associate athletic director at USC, and $200,000 to Singer's foundation. They would reportedly reprise this strategy to get their younger daughter admission to USC as well.
Lori Loughlin and Olivia Jade Giannulli celebrate the lauch of the Olivia Jade x Sephora Collection palette in December 2018.
OLIVIA JADE GIANNULLI
Compared to her aspiring actress sister, Olivia seems more interested in playing herself. The social media influencer has racked up nearly 2 million YouTube subscribers and 1.3 million Instagram followers to date. She's worked with numerous big-name brands on sponsored posts, and even collaborated with Sephora on a make-up palette, which promises to help customers achieve "your ideal Olivia Jade glow."
Bronze & Illuminate Palette
Olivia Jade x Sephora Collection
Her chosen side hustle has left a lot of information online about what her college aspirations—or lack thereof—were before starting at USC. In one oft-cited YouTube video, Olivia noted what she hoped to get out of the undergrad experience. "I do want the experience of like game days, partying," she said. "I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know."
Her YouTube fans quickly pointed out that her comments sounded "privileged", "ignorant," and "spoiled," prompting her to backtrack in a later video, per the BBC.
Another post that hasn't aged well: a tweet from August 2016, in which Olivia writes "college prep is the worst thing ever."
Still, she seems to have put more effort into test prep than the actual application process. In December of 2017, Loughlin emailed Singer with Olivia in CC, according to court documents. "[Our younger daughter] has not submitted all her colleges [sic] apps and is confused on how to do so," Loughlin wrote. "I want to make sure she gets those in as I don’t want to call any attention to [her] with our little friend at [her high school]. Can you tell us how to proceed?" Per the Justice Department's filing,Singer responded by directing one of his employees to submit the applications on Olivia's behalf.
Since beginning school in the fall, Olivia has leveraged her college career for sponsored Instagram posts—including one with Amazon Prime that's drawn a lot of attention as of late. The photo shows Olivia perched on a well-decorated dorm bed, not long after she started at USC. "Officially a college student!" the caption reads. "It’s been a few weeks since I moved into my dorm and I absolutely love it. I got everything I needed from Amazon with @primestudent and had it all shipped to me in just two-days."
"Will Amazon deliver your diploma too?" one commenter asked.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.