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2 stars of 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' indicted on fraud charges

July 29, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Teresa Giudice, left, and husband Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, stars of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," have been charged in a 39-count indictment.
Teresa Giudice, left, and husband Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice,… (Gary He / Associated Press )

Two of the stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” have been indicted on federal charges, accused of conspiring to defraud lenders and of hiding assets during a bankruptcy proceeding, federal officials in New Jersey said Monday.

Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, 43, both of Towaco, N.J., are scheduled to make their first court appearance Tuesday.

The pair, who have been stars of the television show since it premiered in 2009, could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the top charge in a 39-count indictment, which alleges conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements.

“The indictment returned today alleges the Guidices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks,” U.S. Atty. Paul J. Fishman said. "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 Bravo network produces the reality TV "Real Housewives" franchise, of which the New Jersey series is the fourth incarnation. The program deals with the life and times of five women and their families in and around several communities in northern New Jersey. The Giudices and their four daughters are among the cast.

“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,” said Shantelle P. Kitchen, an IRS agent in Newark, N.J.

“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,” Kitchen said.

The indictment charges the couple with submitting fraudulent mortgage and loan documents to lenders from 2001 to 2008, before the series began.

"The Giudices falsely represented on loan applications and supporting documents that they were employed and/or receiving substantial salaries when, in fact, they were either not employed or not receiving such salaries," the indictment alleges.

When the couple filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, the indictment alleges, they "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,' website sales, and personal and magazine appearances. The Giudices concealed their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming Season Two of the Bravo television show."

The indictment also alleges that during tax years 2004 through 2008, Giuseppe Giudice failed to filed tax returns even though he had income of almost $1 million.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, if convicted the pair could face decades in prison and substantial fines.

“The conspiracy-to-commit-mail-and-wire-fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each of the bank-fraud and loan-application-fraud counts carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1-million fine," prosecutors said. "The bankruptcy-fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of 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." 

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