For those that are fans of the Bravo TV reality show “Real Housewives of New Jersey”, the most common scenes found that make it to air include glamour, Bentleys, and extravagant shopping sprees. Today however, a page of “unscripted reality” was witnessed by Joe and Teresa Giudice of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” according to the New Jersey Star Ledger today. The New Jersey Star Ledger is reporting today that the “unscripted reality” facing Joe Giudice and his wife Teresa Giudice, was a somber one that included United States Marshalls, Homeland Security, and work dogs that swept the area prior to sentencing for the Giudices.
It was a marriage united when Joe and his wife Teresa Giudice arrived this morning at the Federal Courthouse in Newark, New Jersey, clinging to each other with gripped hands as they faced sentencing for fraud and bank wire charges that came to the tune of up to $5 million dollars. Additionally their bankruptcy filings indicate the couple still “owes millions” to creditors and debtors. CBS reports today that Joe and Teresa Giudice pled guilty to conspiracy charges and bankruptcy fraud in March of this year, acknowledging that they were guilty of hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors, in addition to counts of mail and wire fraud.
The “Real Housewives of New Jersey” stars also pled guilty to submitting phoney loan documents in order to procure up to $5 million dollars in construction and mortgage loans. We have previously reported on these charges and the 41 count indictment. Had the Giudices gone to trial on these charges without pleading out, federal sentencing mandates would have had them facing over 30 years prison time.
With the plea entered in March of this year, federal sentencing guidelines stipulate that Joe Giudice was facing a 37 to 46 month sentence, and Teresa Giudice was facing up to 27 months. Joe Giudice has been sentenced to 41 months prison time, plus two years probation according to the New Jersey Star Ledger.
Additionally the presence of Homeland Security in the courtroom today is the stark reminder of the very real possibility that Joe Giudice may be facing deportation after serving his 41 month prison term. Joe’s attorney has argued that Joe came to America when he was just a baby, and grew up here. Attorney Miles Feinstein also argued that Joe was unaware of his citizenship status growing up, and did not know he was not an American citizen.
Wire fraud, mail fraud, and three different kinds of bankruptcy fraud were the charges facing the Giudices today. These charges stemmed from an indictment that ran over 40 counts. Additionally tax evasion charges were on the table today, as Joe has reportedly failed to file taxes on income that hovered around the $1 million dollar mark between the years 2004 and 2008.
Reporters Jeff Gold Esq. and Vicki Hy reporting for the New Jersey Star Ledger tweeted live on today’s sentencing hearing for “Real Housewives of New Jersey” stars Joe and Teresa Giudice. Those tweets can be viewed in the slideshow here.
Assets of course took center stage at the sentencing hearing, with Judge Esther Salas of the Federal Court “admonishing the Giudices for seeming to hide assets in their financial disclosure reports” according to tweets from Vicki Hy. Tax return issues from 2009 also were discussed, with factual disputes taking center stage. The New Jersey Star Ledger also reported today that Judge Esther Salas “expressed frustration” over a lack of transparency.
2009 bankruptcy filings for the couple indicated a total of $60,000 in home assets, but the couple only declared $25,000 on their bankruptcy. Additionally an insurance policy on those assets in the amount of $1 million was obtained, which confused the court. The New Jersey Star reported that on this matter Judge Salas said,
“They had an obligation to be transparent and candid and open with the court and I don’t think I got that. I want to understand the disconnect.”
The prosecutor United States attorney Jonathan Romankow agreed,
“It’s the same pattern of obstruction and dishonesty and manipulation that they showed in the bankruptcy case.”
One matter the judge questioned the Giudice’s on was a matter of paperwork and information that was left out in the legal process. No jewelry for Teresa had been entered on the forms, and her attorney argued that this was due to the fact that Teresa’s gems were only “costume jewelry” and not worth very much. Other items not included on the court documents pertained to furniture.
Attorney for the Giudice’s argued that a lot of the furnishings seen on the television show “Real Housewives of New Jersey”, and specifically in the $3 million dollar Montville mansion the Giudice’s are living in, is provided by Bravo production. Evidently that these details were missing from the court paperwork was a fact not unnoticed by Judge Esther Salas. She said,
“How is it at this point the court is having to go over this?”
By the lunch recess, it was not looking good for either of the Giudice’s. Both Joe and Teresa Giudice certainly gave it their all when pleading for mercy from Judge Esther Salas. Miles Feinstein, lawyer for the defendants argued that the death of Joe’s father this past summer has taken a serious toll. We are also learning that Joe has an alcohol problem, and his lawyer has stated that Joe needs rehab time and help in order to overcome this addiction. Joe Giudice read a letter before the court today in pleading for mercy,
“I stand here humiliated before the court and my family and society. I disgraced many people, including my wife and four daughters. I take full responsibility for my actions. I promise to be a better person.”
In addition to Joe’s letter, Feinstein argued that Joe was an honorable man who wanted to take the hit in prison time in order to exonerate his wife. He said,
“Nobody can say Joe Giudice is not a good and considerate son. He’s a low key and loving individual. This is the real Joe. Not the ‘Housewives’ Joe.”
Feinstein also read a letter from Joe’s mother, Filomena Giudice who was unable to attend court today due to health problems. She told the courts via letter,
“My son needs a slap on the wrist, not to be taken away from his family.”
This did not go over very well with Judge Esther Salas, though the sentiment was not lost on her. She responded,
“It’s not a slap on your wrist you need, Mr. Giudice. Uh uh. You need to understand the laws of this country and that they need to be respected. A sentence under the top end of the range would be appropriate, but I have to give you credit for the life you have lived, at least to the people you have loved. What you did in this case doesn’t define you as a man…You have a lot to live for.”
With that, Joe was fined $10,000 and given a 54 month sentence reduced to 41 months prison time and two years probation. The couple will also have to pay back the funds they owe or fraudulently borrowed.
Teresa Giudice has requested home arrest according to documents filed with the court. She told the court that as a mother of 4, prison time would place a hardship on the family. If both Joe and Teresa go to prison at the same time, that would mean splitting up the family because no relative would be able to take all of their children at once.
Teresa also told the court that she would be “happy to forfeit any ill gotten money” and that she would be willing to perform community service with her home arrest. She also stated that she currently does a lot of community work and charity work with sick children, pleading that she would be more useful in the community than in prison.
According to North Jersey News, Teresa Giudice also had a letter to read for the courts. The letter reportedly took her 4 minutes to read. North Jersey reports that the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star faltered in voice when she read,
“I fully take responsibility for my actions. I deeply love my family….my four daughters are my life. I wrote this last night because I knew I was going to be nervous. I’m scared, I’m not going to deny it. I’m really scared. I have heard you. I need to live to do things for myself. It’s time for me to wake up. I will make this right no matter what it takes.”
Vicki Hy reporting for New Jersey Star Ledger tweeted during court proceedings today. In tweets that can be seen in the slideshow, she discussed how Teresa broke down in tears and said she didn’t care about the TV show. Teresa also said in her speech,
“I am more sorry than anyone will know.”
In her speech Teresa pled for leniency on her sentencing. She requested home arrest or downward departure on the basis that she is a mother of four children. Her lawyer requested home detention and/or probation. North Jersey News reports that prosecutor Jonathan Romankow argued that she did not deserve it, that this was a federal fraud case that demanded a harsh sentence.
He also argued that she should not be allowed home arrest in the very home that she fraudulently obtained. United States District Court Judge Salas denied Teresa’s downward departure request and sentenced Teresa Giudice to 15 months in a federal prison. Judge Esther Salas announced prison terms would be served in a staggered manner, and that Teresa would serve hers first.
Additionally deportation may be on the table for Joe. This would not occur until after his prison sentence has been served. Neither Joe nor Teresa Giudice will be heading to prison today. A date to report will be set by the Judge in order to allow ample time for both parents to get their affairs together before reporting for prison sentence. The couple will be required to pay restitution in the amount of $414,000, and Joe has been fined an additional $10,000.
All along Teresa Guidice has claimed, and her husband has supported her in those claims, that she never knew exactly what she was signing as the fraudulent activity was occurring. More relationship advice from the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” then? Always read before you sign, or you may do prison time! Do you think the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” couple Joe and Teresa Giudice got off light? Or do you think Judge Esther Salas went easy on them?