There's more drama ahead for two central cast members of popular Bravo reality TV series "Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Feds announced Monday afternoon that Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, 43, were charged in a 39-count indictment returned in Newark, N.J. earlier today. The two are accused of conspiracy to defraud lenders and illegally obtain mortgages and other loans as well as allegedly hiding assets and income during a bankruptcy case, New Jersey's U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced in a statement.
The couple, 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. The indictment also charges Joe Giudice with failure to file tax returns for tax years 2004 through 2008, a period during which he allegedly earned nearly $1 million.
Teresa's attorney, Henry Klingeman, told the Associated Press hours after the news broke that she will plead not guilty and that "we look forward to vindicating her."
Giudice also shared in her own statement, "Today is a most difficult day for our family. I support Joe and, as a wonderful husband and father, I know he wants only the best for our lovely daughters and me. I am committed to my family and intend to maintain our lives in the best way possible, which includes continuing my career. As a result, I am hopeful that we will resolve this matter with the Government as quickly as possible."
"The indictment returned today alleges the Giudices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks," Fishman said in the statement. "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."
Shantelle P. Kitchen, the Special Agent in Charge of the IRS' criminal division in Newark, added in the statement, "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."
According to the Indictment:
From September 2001 through September 2008, Giuseppe 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. 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.
For example, in September 2001, 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 submitted fake W-2 Forms and fake paystubs purportedly 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.
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 Two of the Bravo television show. 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, Giuseppe 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.
The couple has certainly made a splash on the reality TV series, squabbling with cast and family members in highly-contentious on-screen battles. Bravo aired on Sunday evening its latest Real Housewives of New Jersey episode, chronicling a possible peace between the Gorga-Giudice clans. However, in the rocky realm of reality TV in the Garden State, peace, it seems, is short-lived.
The Giudices face serious jail time- as in more than 50 years in prison if convicted- and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. The two are scheduled to make their first court appearances Tuesday.