Fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli — whose self-titled brand once ran at Target — is accused of shelling out $500,000 to get his daughters into USC

L. Cohen / Contributor / Getty ImagesThe suit alleges that the fashion designer and actress paid out $US500,000 in bribes.
  • Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer whose brand was once prominently featured at Target, is one of the big names caught up in a bombshell college admissions scandal.
  • The FBI is accusing Giannulli, along with his wife, “Full House” star Lori Loughlin, of participating in a “conspiracy to commit mail fraud.”
  • The complaint alleges that the couple spent almost $US500,000 in bribes in order to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California.
  • Giannulli reportedly attended USC in some capacity, although he may have never been officially enrolled there, according to fashion site The Hundreds.

Mossimo Giannulli has a figurative bullseye on his back.

And it’s not because the fashion designer’s self-titled apparel brand Mossimo was once a major staple at Target.

Giannulli, along with his wife, “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, have both been sucked into a sprawling college admissions scandal. The FBI accused the couple of “conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.”

Giannulli is perhaps most famous for his connection to Target. Back in 2000, the designer “signed over rights to his name, signature, voice and personality” to the brand, according to a contemporary article published in the Los Angeles Times.

But the collaboration didn’t last forever.

“We haven’t had a working relationship with Mossimo Giannulli in over a decade and we no longer carry any Mossimo branded products at Target,” a Target spokesperson told Business Insider.

The connection was completely severed in 2017, when Target dropped Mossimo in favour of a number of other labels.

Iconix Brands, which currently owns Mossimo, did not immediately reply to Business Insider’s request for comment. Business Insider contacted several email addresses associated with Giannulli, but did not receive a response. A representative for Loughlin said they have no further information at this time.

The complaint claims that Giannulli’s involvement in the scandal began on April 22, 2016, before it was announced that Target was dropping his brand from stores. The designer allegedly emailed an individual whom the case only identifies as a cooperating witness. Copying his wife on the email, Giannulli allegedly expressed interest in setting out a “game plan” for getting his oldest daughter into “a school other than ASU.”

The complaint alleges that the couple ultimately shelled out $US500,000 in bribes in order to have their daughters – who did not participate in crew – “designated as recruits to the USC crew team.”

To accomplish this, Giannulli allegedly took photos of his daughters on rowing machines and bribed Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California. A spokesperson for USC told Business Insider in a statement that the school is “conducting an internal investigation” and that Heinel has been terminatedion.

“The university will take additional employment actions as appropriate,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.”

Read more: Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin among dozens charged by FBI with participating in a scheme to get students into elite colleges

After his older daughter was admitted to the university, Giannulli allegedly wrote an email to the cooperating witnesses with the subject line “Trojan happiness,” apparently in reference to USC’s mascot.

“I wanted to thank you again for your great work with [our older daughter], she is very excited and both Lori and I are very appreciative of your efforts and end result!” the designer wrote, according to the complaint.

In subsequent emails, the complaint says, Giannulli explained that he intended to go through the process again in order to get his younger daughter into USC.

The complaint alleges that Giannulli’s daughters’ high school guidance counselor became suspicious because she “did not believe that either of the Guinnullis’ daughters participated in crew and was concerned that their applications may have contained misleading information.”

Giannulli later met with a guidance counselor at the high school to verify that his younger daughter was “truly a coxswain” on a crew team, according to an email exchange between the counselor and the fashion designer.

In a video posted on Youtube in August 2018, Giannulli’s younger daughter, Olivia Jade, sparked controversy for saying that she was more focused on “game days” and “partying” than attending classes at the college.

“I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend,” she says in the video. “But I’m going to go in and talk to my deans and everyone and hope that I can try to balance it all. But I do want the experience of game days, partying – I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

A profile of Giannulli posted on fashion site The Hundreds in 2016 revealed that the designer may have never technically even been enrolled in USC. According to The Hundreds, Giannulli said he sent his father fake report cards and tuition bills.

“SC was expensive, so that was how I was starting my company. I used all that cash,” he told The Hundreds. “I used to have hundreds of thousands of cash in my top drawer in my fraternity house.”

“We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC,” a University of Southern California spokesperson said in a statement. “USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation. We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university.”

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