Two of the stars of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" were charged Monday in a conspiracy to defraud lenders and illegally obtain mortgages and other loans, as well as allegedly hiding assets and income during a bankruptcy case, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, 43, both of Towaco, N.J., were charged 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 today by a federal grand jury. The indictment also charges Joe Giudice with failure to file tax returns for tax years 2004 through 2008, during which time he allegedly earned nearly $1 million.
"The indictment returned today alleges the Giudices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks," U.S. Attorney 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 indictment targets the couple's activity leading up to their debut on on Bravo's New Jersey spinoff of the popular "Housewives" franchise in May 2009 and subsequent Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. They are facing as many as 30 years in prison and fines that could top $1 million.
According to the indictment, from September 2001 through September 2008, Joe and Teresa Giudice allegedly engaged in a mail and wire fraud conspiracy in which they submitted to lenders fraudulent mortgage and other loan applications and supporting documents in order to obtain mortgages and other loans. It charges that the couple allegedly 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.
In September 2001, the indictment alleges, Teresa Giudice applied for a mortgage loan of $121,500 for which she submitted a loan application that falsely claimed that she was employed as an executive assistant.
She also allegedly submitted fake W-2 Forms and fake pay stubs supposedly issued by her employer. The indictment also charges specific instances where the Giudices committed bank fraud and loan application fraud in the course of obtaining loans from several banks.
When the show began airing in 2009, it depicted Joe Giudice as working in the housing industry and his work hard hit by the recession. Teresa Giudice drew criticism for her free-spending ways on the show.
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," website sales, and personal and magazine appearances. The Giudices concealed their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming Season 2 of the Bravo television show, the indictment charges.
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, Joe 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 a maximum potential penalty of 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 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.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.