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Feds charge ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ couple with mortgage fraud, other crimes

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Teresa and Joe Giudice of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” lied on applications for mortgages and other loans when they didn’t have much money, then tried to hide assets — including nearly $1 million in income — during bankruptcy proceedings, the government alleged today.

A 39-count federal indictment returned today charges Teresa Giudice, 41, and Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, 43, both of Towaco, with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud by making false statements on loan applications, as well as with bankruptcy fraud.

It also accuses Giuseppe Giudice of failing to file tax returns on nearly $1 million of income for the tax years 2004 through 2008.

“The indictment returned today alleges the Guidices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. 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.”

Both are scheduled for appearances in U.S. District Court in Newark tomorrow morning.

Joe Giudice already is facing a state prosecution of using his brother’s identification to get a driver’s license because he had his suspended after a DUI.

According to the federal indictment, the Bravo television show couple submitted bogus mortgage and other loan applications and supporting documents for seven years, beginning in 2001, that “falsely represented that they were employed and/or receiving substantial salaries when, in fact, they were either not employed or not receiving such salaries.”

For example, it says, Teresa Giudice applied for a mortgage loan of $121,500 in September 2001 “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 cites specific instances of alleged bank and loan application fraud.

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, the indictment says, they filed several amendments to the bankruptcy petition.

As part of the bankruptcy filings, the Giudices were required to disclose to the government trustee, among other things, assets, liabilities, income, and any anticipated increase in income. The indictment alleges that they “intentionally concealed businesses they owned, income they received from a rental property, and Teresa Giudice’s true income from the television show.”

They also hid income from website sales and personal and magazine appearances, it says.

What’s more, the government says, the Giudices “concealed their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming Season Two of the Bravo television show.”

Technically, federal conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years of in prison and a $250,000 fine – although a guilty plea or conviction would bring far less than that.

The same applies to the fraud counts, which carry maximum prison terms of up to 30 years and $1 million in fines.

The bankruptcy fraud offenses can each bring up to five years in a federal penitentiary and a $250,000 fine, while failing to file a tax return exposes those convicted to up a year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Fishman credited special agents of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, New York Region; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation; Region 3 U.S. Trustee Roberta DeAngelis and the Newark office of the U.S. Trustee, with the investigation that led to today’s indictment.

The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan W. Romankow and Rachael Honig.

Defense attorneys Miles Feinstein (Giuseppe Giudice) and Henry Klingeman (Teresa Giudice) are representing the couple.

“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,” said Shantelle P. Kitchen, Special Agent in Charge of the Newark office of IRS-Criminal Investigation.

A. Derek Evans, who heads the FDIC Office of Inspector General, added that “the American people need to be assured that their government is working to ensure integrity in the financial services and housing industries and that those involved in criminal misconduct that undermines that integrity will be held accountable.”

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