Lying, concealing, or omitting information during bankruptcy can have serious consequences – just ask Joe and Teresa Giudice of New Jersey. Teresa, star of Bravo cable channel’s Real Housewives of New Jersey, recently appeared in court with her husband Joe to answer a federal indictment that that includes 39 counts of fraud. The Giudices made a brief appearance in a Newark, New Jersey federal court, surrender their passports, and were freed on $500,000 bond each.
The Giudices are accused of defrauding lenders during bankruptcy proceedings. Prosecutors say the couple received about $4.6 million in mortgages, withdrawals from home equity lines of credit and construction loans. Joe also failed to file tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008. During that time his income is said to have fluctuated wildly; the indictment states he made $323,481 in 2005 and $26,194 in 2006.
Teresa previously agreed to waive discharge of her debts in bankruptcy after the trustee accused the couple of concealing assets. According to the consent order, Teresa stated that she wanted to resolve the proceedings against her “without the need for further inquiry or litigation, and without her making any further admissions.” Other court papers revealed that Joe pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked about hidden assets.
Real Housewives of New Jersey is in its fifth season on Bravo.
According to Teresa Giudice’s attorney, Henry Klingeman, she will plead not guilty. If convicted the couple could spend 30 years in prison. Joe, who is not a U.S. citizen, could be deported back to Italy.
The bankruptcy process is an opportunity to set your finances right. It is a second chance for a fresh start. However, when the federal bankruptcy laws are abused, things can turn ugly very quickly. Not only can the court deny bankruptcy discharge to the debtor, the FBI and IRS may be called to investigate. The federal bankruptcy laws offer powerful protection and real relief without the need to conceal assets or perjury.