Forty-one months for 41 counts. Joe Giudice was sentenced Thursday, Oct. 2, to three and a half years in prison, while his wife Teresa Giudice received 15 months in prison on their far-reaching fraud case. Here, Us Weekly explains how the Real Housewives of New Jersey couple landed in this predicament to begin with.
In July 2013, the Bravo reality stars were indicted on 39 counts of fraud and tax charges, later facing an additional two counts that November. (The couple had already dealt with financial woes for years and filed for bankruptcy in 2009.) At the time, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman charged the Giudices with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements on loan applications. The indictment also singled out Joe with failure to file his tax returns from 2004 to 2008, a time period during which he earned $1 million.
Simply put, the Giudices lied:
- Teresa claimed to have held a job as a real estate agent or work in her husband's business, which made it easier for the couple to obtain a bigger mortgage deal from 2001 to 2008.
- In all, the couple fraudulently secured millions of dollars in loans over a time period of eight years. They were able to do this by submitting false applications and documents, including fake pay stubs, tax returns, and W-2 forms.
- When the couple filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009, the spouses claimed they were $11 million in debt, a number which included $2 million in mortgages alone. When the Real Housewives of New Jersey debuted in 2009, the Giudices were seen flaunting their extravagant lifestyle while adding the finishing touches to their enormous new mansion in Towaco, N.J.
- Teresa also withheld the full amount of income she received for her starring role on the Real Housewives franchise. She also lied — under oath — about the assets received from her Fabulicious food and cookbook business, and other appearances she's made as a celebrity.
- Like his wife, Joe also lied under oath about his failure to file tax returns.
The couple pled not guilty when they were initially charged last summer, and later changed their plea to guilty this past March. "Today I took responsibility for a series of mistakes I made several years ago," Teresa told Us Weekly in March after pleading guilty.
The Giudices were originally expected to appear before a judge to be sentenced this past July when Joe's father, Frank, died suddenly in June. On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas chided the Giudices — parents of four daughters Gia, 13, Gabriella, 9, Milania, 8, and Audriana, 5.
"Everyone indulges but there has to be discipline," Salas, the presiding judge at Thursday's hearing in Newark, N.J., told the couple. "You need to teach your daughters discipline. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. It bothers me that you haven’t yet paid your taxes either and that I haven’t gotten a straight answer of whether you filed or not. I don’t sleep the night before a sentence, no matter who it is even if you Joe star of the Real Housewives."