Reality check! Teresa and Joe Giudice were scolded by U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, the presiding judge at their Thursday, Oct. 2. Us Weekly was on the scene when Salas delivered her speech before sentencing Joe to 41 months in prison, and later, Teresa to 15 months.
The couple arrived hand-in-hand at the federal courthouse in Newark, N.J., on Thursday, where Judge Salas chided the Real Housewives of New Jersey stars for "inconsistencies and omissions" in their financial disclosure paperwork.
"The sentence must reflect the seriousness of the crime, but not the excessive," Judge Salas told the couple. "In the documents, it said that you received $5.2 million that you were not entitled to. Everyone indulges but there has to be discipline."
Salas then told the parents of four daughters — Gia, 13, Gabriella, 9, Milania, 8, and Audriana, 5 — the proper method of raising their young girls. "You need to teach your daughters discipline. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it," she told the couple. "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."
She also slammed the couple for failing to disclose their complete assets before sentencing. Salas noted to the pair: "I don't sleep the night before a sentence, no matter who it is — even you, Joe, star of the Real Housewives." During the hearing, Joe's attorney, Miles Feinstein, cited 44 letters from family members and friends, vouching for the embattled reality star. Feinstein read one letter written by Joe's mother, Filomena, in its entirety before the court.
"Your mother said in the letter that you needed a slap on the wrist," Judge Salas told the father of four. "I don't agree. You showed direct disrespect to the court with all of your actions. I feel like a sentence at the top end of the range is inappropriate because I'm giving you credit for loving those closest to you. I believe you are charitable and a good person, but I am giving you a jail sentence."
Like her husband, Teresa was also sentenced to prison during Thursday's hearing.
"I’m going to focus on what I didn’t say to your husband — that all of the false declarations, wire-fraud, and bank-fraud are still your fault," Salas told Teresa. "I've said how I feel about the events that transpired, we have all been together since 10 a.m. For a moment, I thought about probation until I read the government's report. What you did in the financial disclosure really sticks in my craw. It's what the court has a problem with. It shows blatant disrespect for the court. I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve never seen the confusion and work that went into these financial documents. The conduct which you piece-mealed, these financial documents, which I needed for this case were harder to decipher than any I've encountered."
Judge Salas went on to slam Teresa for her crimes. "You are not as bad as your husband, you do not have the criminal record that he has had, but you are complicit in it," she said. "I think that you need to take responsibility for yourself, you said that yourself. Stop relying on PR, on CPAs, you need to make sure that everything you sign is correct and complete. You are a savvy businesswoman, you know how to brand yourself."
Similar to what she said to Joe, Salas acknowledged Teresa as a loving person. "I know Teresa will be the strong mother that she needs to be, and show her kids that her word is bond," the authority said. "When you sign something, it’s a bond. I know — not the whole world — but a lot of people are watching and I need to send a message. It doesn’t matter who you are, how famous you are, I believe general departure is necessary."