Justice Department Accuses Reality TV Stars of Bank, Bankruptcy, and Tax Fraud

531px-New_Jersey_Locator_Map_with_US.svg.pngA federal criminal indictment accuses a married couple, known for their appearances on reality television, of multiple counts of fraud over a period of nearly a decade. United States v. Giudice, No. 2:2013-cr-00495, indictment (D.N.J., Jul. 29, 2013). Teresa Giudice stars on the reality show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” on Bravo, along with her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice. The indictment lists thirty-four counts of bank fraud, loan application fraud, and bankruptcy fraud against both spouses, as well as five counts of failure to file tax returns against Joe Giudice. All of the charges allege false statements, falsification of documents, or withholding of required information or documents. The charges could bring a cumulative penalty of decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its indictment, and made a public announcement of the indictment, on July 29, 2013. The DOJ accuses the couple of lying to banks and other financial institutions, a bankruptcy court, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over a period of time beginning in 2001 through at least 2011. The defendants both entered pleas of not guilty in mid-August, and have stated that they will not testify against each other. The case is currently set for trial in October.

The indictment accuses the Giudices of actual bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Federal law imposes the same penalties for an attempt or conspiracy to commit bank fraud as it would for actual fraud. 18 U.S.C. § 1349. The government therefore only has to prove that the defendants agreed to commit fraud and took affirmative steps towards that end, rather than proving the fraud itself. The indictment alleges multiple incidents, beginning in September 2001, in which the defendants supposedly submitted false information and false documents, including fraudulent tax returns and W-2 forms, to banks and other lenders in order to obtain mortgage and construction loans.

The defendants filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009. They each filed consent orders with the bankruptcy trustee in 2011 agreeing that the bankruptcy court would not grant them a discharge of debt. Giudice, indictment at 14-15. The indictment alleges that they failed to disclose various assets to the trustee and the court during the course of the proceeding. This includes alleged false statements under oath and failures to identify assets, such as business interests, real estate holdings, and employment income.

Joe Giudice faces additional charges of failure to file tax returns. The indictment claims that he received gross annual income ranging from around $20,000 to $300,000 during the calendar years 2004 to 2008, but failed to file income tax returns with the IRS during the years 2005 to 2009. The Internal Revenue Code makes it a criminal offense to “willfully” fail to pay income taxes or file required tax documentation. 28 U.S.C. § 7203.

Board-certified criminal defense attorney Michael J. Brown has represented defendants in west Texas for more than two decades. He has worked as an FBI agent and a prosecutor, and he draws on this experience in order to fight for his clients’ rights in state and federal cases involving alleged drug offenses, white collar crime, and other matters. Contact us today online or at (432) 687-5157 to schedule a confidential consultation to see how we may assist you.

Web Resources:

United States v. Giudice (PACER registration required), No. 2:2013-cr-00495, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey
Indictment (PDF file), United States v. Giudice, No. 2:2013-cr-00495, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, July 29, 2013
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Photo credit: By National Atlas of the United States, User:Dtbohrer [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.