Lori Loughlin: USC Reportedly Questioned Daughter's Athletic Status a Year Before College Admissions Scandal

A full year before the college admissions scandal broke, University of Southern California officials reportedly questioned whether Lori Loughlin's daughters Olivia Jade Gianniulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli were really athletes. In March 2019, the USC administrator who defended accepting them as crew recruits was arrested and charged with getting dozens of unqualified students into USC as recruits. Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli were among the dozens of parents accused of paying bribes to get their children into colleges.

In March 2018, several high schools - including Marymount High School, where Olivia and Isabella attended - asked USC why students were recruited as athletes. Marymount officials wrote to USC that they did not think "either of the students are serious crew participants," reports The Los Angeles Times.

Heinel was then asked to investigate. The very next day, she said Olivia rowed for a "competitive" club and the USC crew coach thought Olivia "has talent."

The messages were among the 480 pages of emails, transcripts from recorded calls and records filed in federal court this week. In the papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric S. Rosen also responded to defense attorneys who argued the prosecutors held back information favorable to their clients.

Rosen specifically criticized Loughlin and Giannulli's claim that they thought the $500,000 bribe to William Singer was a real donation to USC. Rosen included 2016 emails between Giannulli and a USC development official about Isabella's recruitment, in which Giannulli offered, "If I can be at all helpful in setting up a 1:1 opportunity for her, customized tour of campus for the family, and/or classroom visit."

At that point, Giannulli was already working with Singer to make Isabella look like a crew recruit. In one email, Singer asked Giannulli for a picture of Isabella on a rowing machine. One month later, Heinel put Isabella in front of the USC admissions committee as a recruited coxswain, "based on falsified credentials," prosecutors claim. Prosecutors said Loughlin and Giannulli then sent a $50,000 check to a USC account handled by Heinel and wired Singer $200,000. They pulled off the exact same scheme to get Olivia accepted, prosecutors allege.

Rosen said no other USC officials interviewed knew about the payments from Singer's clients, aside from those who have already been charged. They also found that no one outside the school's athletic department and those who supervised Heinel knew of the schemes. However, Rosen said "others at USC understood that Singer existed," providing a 2015 email from Tim Brunold, USC dean of amdissions, warning Heinel to "steer clear" of Singer.

In 2018, Heinel was then asked to investigate applications from three students, including Olivia. Her high school counselor told USC admissions the year before, "I had no knowledge of [her] involvement in crew and based on what I knew of her doubted she was involved in crew." Heinel replied, saying Olivia was one of the prospects the crew coach "inherited" from a previous coach and was "welcoming" to Olivia, allowing her to "earn a spot."


Giannulli and Loughlin both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, bribery and money laundering. They are reportedly facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Loughlin is scheduled for a status conference Friday in Boston federal court.

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