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Dad in admissions scandal may have misrepresented own education

Lori Loughlin, husband pleaded not guilty

(CNN) - Fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, who has been accused of paying bribes to get his daughters into USC, may have misrepresented his own college education to his parents.

Giannulli and his wife, actress Lori Loughlin, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they paid $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters Isabella and Olivia into USC as rowing recruits. The sisters never crewed. They are still officially enrolled at the school.

In an October 2016 post on the fashion blog "The Hundreds," author Bobby Hundreds writes that Giannulli "not only convinced his dad that he was a student by falsifying report cards, Mossimo got him to fork over fees with fake tuition bills. In fact, Moss used this seed money to initiate his foray into the T-shirt biz."

Giannulli was never a full time student at the University of Southern California. And his daughter, social media influencer Olivia Jade, has also said in a podcast interview that he used his tuition money to start his iconic business.

According to USC, Mossimo Giannulli attended USC during the spring semester in 1984, but not as a fully matriculated student.

He was enrolled in the College of Continuing Education, a non-degree program open to anyone "with no formal admission requirements."

USC would not share what, if any classes he took.

Those students were given a "visitor status." Nevertheless, Giannulli did live at a school fraternity.

Turning to page 370 of the 1984 USC yearbook, "El Rodeo," a youthful Mossimo Giannulli (misspelled Giannulci) is sitting smack dab in the middle of the front row of the class photo for the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

A spokesman for the fraternity tells CNN that at the time, "having non-matriculating students associate with the fraternity would not have been uncommon."

CNN has reached out to some members of the fraternity, but no calls have been returned.

Living at the fraternity came at a turning point in Giannulli's his life.

Hundreds writes in his blog that Giannulli said "SC was expensive, so that was how I was starting my company. I used all that cash... I used to have hundreds of thousands of cash in my top drawer in my fraternity house. And I was like, 'this is kind of too easy. I need a bigger platform. If I had a bigger account base, I could really kill it...'"

Giannulli went on to turn his T-shirt business into the fashion juggernaut "Mossimo." It was later licensed by Target. Giannulli sold off his interest in the company in 2006 and hasn't worked for the brand for several years according to the new owners.

Giannulli's youngest daughter, 19-year old Olivia, was accepted by USC and matriculated in the fall of 2018. A social media influencer, once with almost 2 million people subscribed to her YouTube channel, she talked about her Dad's "crazy" college time during a recent video podcast, "The Zach Sang Show."

The interview was published on March 8, 2019, just four days before her parents were charged. Known professionally as Olivia Jade, she told Sang, "I don't know if I am supposed to say this, sorry dad. But (her father) was like never enrolled in college, he faked his way through it. Yeah, so then he started his whole business with tuition money that his parents thought was going to college."

In that same interview, Olivia Jade talked about how she planned on using her time in college to enhance her brand with her college experience. "Mostly my parents really wanted me to go because both of them didn't go to college... I think they did fine. Hypocrites. But I am so happy they made me go. That sounds so terrible, they didn't make me."

Olivia Giannulli has since marketed everything from Amazon products to invisible dental braces. Recently, she submitted a trademark application for make-up kits. The lawyer listed on the application, Perry Viscounty, is also representing her parents in the college admissions case. CNN tried to reach Mossimo and Olivia Giannulli through Viscounty but he declined to comment.

Perry Viscounty also went to USC as an undergrad and law student. And listed just two rows behind Mossimo Giannulli in that 1984 Beta Theta Pi photo -- fraternity brother Perry Viscounty. Perhaps a good lesson in connections.

CNN's Rosalina Nieves contributed to this story


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