Image source: Zap2It.com
I don’t know about you but I’m not a particular fan of the Real Housewives of New Jersey program but you still hate to hear that people have landed on the wrong side of the law. In the case of Joe and Teresa Giudice, the always arguing and occasionally brawling NJ duo, the laws they’re accused of violating include federal bankruptcy, banking, wire and mail fraud statutes. Late last month the duo was indicted and then released on $500,000 bond each after a hearing in Newark, New Jersey. Other than being tabloid fodder, why do we mention this? Because what’s happening with the Giudices is a cautionary tale for anyone in bankruptcy…
What the Giudices Are Charged With
A government attorney involved in the case, Paul J Fishman, said, “The indictment returned today alleges the Giudices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks. 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 last, I’m certain, was a dig at the scripted “reality” show that made the Jersey couple famous (or perhaps infamous).
Specifically, the pair are accused of hiding assets during a 2009 bankruptcy filing where they failed to list businesses they owned, rental property income and Teresa’s income from the then-fledgling RHONJ program. Other federal charges include failing to file tax returns and submitting fraudulent loan documents and mortgage applications listing salaries that didn’t exist between 2001-2008 prior to the premiere of the show. Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and making false statements were also listed.
What the Giudices Are Facing
For now the Giudices have not pleaded guilty or innocent to the charges, but were indicted on 39 different counts. The bank fraud and loan application fraud charges each carry a sentence of up to 30 years (if convicted) plus a fine as high as $1 million per infraction. I’m guessing federal prison doesn’t have cable, much less the Bravo channel so the Giudices can watch the remainder of the RHONJ cast carrying on without them.
Image source: NJ.com
Joe Giudice is accused of failing to file tax returns from 2004-2008 even though he had total income of close to $1 million. The sentence for this is likely one of the smallest the reality couple will face. Lauryn Hill got three months in the slammer for failing to file taxes for five years on close to $3 million in income but could have gotten a max of one year per tax return not filed. The mail and wire fraud charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years each. The bankruptcy fraud accusations can result in five years behind bars plus a $250,000 fine.
What to Learn from the Giudices’ Predicament
The lesson to learn here is one we all learned in kindergarten (and our formative years) – don’t lie! Lying to banks, lying to the IRS (even if they are lies of omission) and lying to the bankruptcy court are huge no-no’s. I would be surprised if the Giudices will walk away from this unscathed despite their high priced legal representation.
If you are contemplating filing bankruptcy – chapter 7 or chapter 13 – contact the law offices of John T. Orcutt for assistance. With decades of experience in bankruptcy law, our attorneys can explain the reality of bankruptcy, ensure you stay on the right side of the law and maximize the benefit you can get from the fresh start a properly filed bankruptcy can offer. Contact us now for a free consultation!