Conflict and personal drama are the traditional themes in the programming of reality TV shows. These television shows have become exceedingly popular since the onset of the twenty-first century and can be found on the major television networks as well as those viewed on cable TV. They deal with a theme of unscripted situations and actual happenings and usually feature a cast that was previously unfamiliar to the viewer.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey which can be seen on the Bravo network is an offshoot of the original show; the Real Housewives of Orange County. The inspiration for these shows was the fictional Desperate Housewives which first appeared on ABC in 2004. Other spinoffs include The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and those from many other American cities. Most of these shows have aired for multiple seasons, and are in production for future episodes with many new major cities targeted to host them.
In a case of life imitating art, two of the members of the New Jersey rendition of the show have found their own illustrations of personal drama and conflict.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced that two cast members of the show, Giuseppe (Joe) Giudice, 43, and his wife Teresa Giudice, 41 have been indicted on bankruptcy fraud and bank fraud which are federal offenses. A federal grand jury returned a 39-count indictment in which they were named. The indictment also carried charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and making false statements on loan applications. Additionally, the indictment charges that Giuseppe Giudice meaningfully did not file tax returns for the four year period of 2004 through 2008. It is alleged that Mr. Giudice earned close to $1 million during that time-frame.
The charges the couple faces were allegedly enacted between September 2001 and late 2008. Throughout that time period, the couple from Towaco, New Jersey, submitted fraudulent mortgage and loan applications, according to the indictment. One example demonstrated that in 2001, in an attempt to defraud the lender, Mrs. Giudice applied for a mortgage loan in an amount exceeding $120,000. She allegedly submitted fabricated pay stubs and falsified W-2 forms. She listed her occupational title as an executive assistant which was also a bogus claim. Also included in the indictment are charges of precise occasions where the couple was guilty of loan application fraud and bank fraud during the time they obtained loans from a number of banks.
The two are also accused of not divulging assets when they petitioned for bankruptcy in 2009. In October of that year they filed for Chapter Seven bankruptcy protection. Included in those effects was the non-disclosure of truthful facts and figures regarding rental properties, businesses they owned, and Mrs. Giudice’s actual compensation from the television show’s broadcasts.
Being convicted of any of the charges against them convey steep punishments A conviction for loan application fraud and bank fraud hold a penalty of a $1 million fine as well as each count carrying a maximum potential penalty of 30 years of incarceration. The fine for conspiracy to commit wire and/or mail fraud is $250,000 and each count carries a maximum prospective penalty of 20 years behind bars. The bankruptcy fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count and a $250,000 fine. In regard to failing to file tax returns, the penalties carry maximums of one year in prison for each count as well as a fine of $100,000.
Unrelated to the fraud charges, Mr. Giudice is also awaiting trial for charges of impersonation and wrongfully using identification information of another individual. According to NJ.com he was arrested in 2011 and faces up to 10 years of incarceration if convicted of those unrelated charges. The case against him alleges that he used his brother’s identity to attain a driver’s license. In this separate action, Giudice has rebutted any misconduct.
To make matters worse at the time, the couple was hit with two additional charges of loan application fraud and bank fraud, adding two more counts to the indictment that was raised against them in July.