Two stars of the reality TV series “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” have been charged with fraud and tax evasion in a conspiracy to defraud lenders and illegally obtain mortgages and other loans as well as allegedly hiding their assets and income during a bankruptcy case.
Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, 43, both of Towaco, N.J., were charged Monday with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud in a 39-count indictment returned Monday by a federal grand jury.
The indictment also charges Giuseppe Giudice with failure to file tax returns for tax years 2004 through 2008, during which time he allegedly earned nearly $1 million.
They appeared in a federal court Tuesday and were each released on $500,000 bond, but were required to surrender their passports, with the judge ordering them not to travel outside New Jersey and New York.
“The privilege of living well in the United States carries certain real responsibilities, including filing tax returns when required and paying the correct amount of tax,” Shantelle P. Kitchen, special agent in charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office, said in a statement. “Today’s indictment alleges the Giudices did not live up to their responsibilities by failing to file tax returns, falsifying loan applications and concealing assets in their bankruptcy petition. The reality is that this type of criminal conduct will not go undetected and individuals who engage in this type of financial fraud should know they will be held accountable.”
From September 2001 through September 2008, Giuseppe and Teresa Giudice allegedly engaged in a mail and wire fraud conspiracy in which they submitted to lenders fraudulent applications for mortgages and other loan, along with supporting documents. The Giudices falsely represented on the loan applications and supporting documents that they were employed and receiving substantial salaries when, in fact, they were either unemployed or not receiving such salaries, according to prosecutors.
For example, in September 2001, Teresa Giudice applied for a mortgage loan of $121,500 for which she submitted a loan application falsely claiming she was employed as an executive assistant. She also submitted fake W-2 forms and fake paystubs purportedly issued by her employer. The indictment also charges specific instances in which the Giudices committed bank fraud and loan application fraud in the course of obtaining loans from several banks.
On Oct. 29, 2009, the Giudices filed a petition for individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark. Over the next few months, they filed several amendments to the bankruptcy petition. As part of the bankruptcy filings, the Giudices were required to disclose to the United States Trustee, among other things, assets, liabilities, income and any anticipated increase in income. The indictment alleges that the Giudices intentionally concealed businesses they owned, income they received from a rental property, and Teresa Giudice’s true income from the television show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Web site sales, and personal and magazine appearances. The Giudices concealed their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming Season Two of the Bravo reality TV series.
“The indictment returned today alleges the Guidices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement. “Everyone has an obligation to tell the truth when dealing with the courts, paying their taxes and applying for loans or mortgages. That’s reality.”
The Giudices are charged with multiple counts of bankruptcy fraud for concealing and making false oaths and declarations about the assets and income during their bankruptcy case.
The indictment also alleges that during tax years 2004 through 2008, Giuseppe Giudice received income totaling $996,459, but did not file tax returns for those years.
The conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud count carries up to 20 years of in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bank fraud and loan application fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The bankruptcy fraud counts each carry up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The failure to file a tax return counts each carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Giuseppi Giudice also faces possible deportation to Italy as he is not a U.S. citizen.
Fishman credited special agents of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge A. Derek Evans; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of special agent in charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; and Region 3 U.S. Trustee Roberta DeAngelis and the Newark office of the U.S. Trustee, with the investigation which led to today’s indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan W. Romankow and Rachael Honig of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division in Newark.
They noted that the charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.