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Tax and Bankruptcy Fraud Charges for Reality TV Stars

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Gavel by steakpinball on Flickr (CC license)

Image by steakpinball on Flickr (CC license)

The Department of Justice recently announced indictments of Teresa and Joe Giudice of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” on charges of fraud connected with loan and bankruptcy applications as well as an alleged failure to file tax returns.

According to Business Insider, the DOJ alleges that the reality television stars conspired “to defraud lenders and illegally obtain mortgages and other loans by allegedly hiding assets and income during a bankruptcy case.” The charges in the indictment include bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and making false statements on loan applications. The couple faces a combined maximum prison term of 55 years as well as a $1.5 million fine.

The 39-count indictment states that “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.”

One of the more egregious allegations is that Teresa Giudice “submitted fake W-2 Forms and fake paystubs purportedly issued by her employer” in support of a false assertion on a loan application that she was working as an executive assistant.

Joe Giudice is also accused of failing to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008, during which the authorities have estimated he made nearly $1 million. The maximum penalty for failure to file a tax return is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for each year alleged.

In a comment regarding the case, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman seemed to acknowledge the couple’s television connection: “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.”

Fun fact: “Giudice” (pronounced JOO-dee-cheh) means judge in Italian.

What do you think of these charges?


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August 19th, 2013 at 10:48 am