Robert J. Fedor, Esq., L.L.C.

New Jersey reality stars headed to prison

Bravo's "Real Housewives" reality series has proven to be very lucrative for the network as the series has several casts in numerous cities and states. The New Jersey edition of the Housewives series has undoubtedly been one of the most conflict-ridden and therefore lucrative for the network.

Recently, the real life legal troubles of one New Jersey cast mate took center stage over any of the dramas playing out before cameras as Teresa Giudice and her husband Giuseppe, better known to viewers as Joe, were sentenced to serve time in federal prison.

The sentences, which were handed down by a New Jersey judge, were the culmination of months of legal proceedings in which felony charges were brought against both Joe and Teresa related to financial and tax fraud. Both spouses were accused and eventually pleaded guilty to falsifying income documents which were then used to secure mortgages and loans. Initially, the Giudices faced 39 indictments including bank fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud and tax fraud.

As part of a plea deal, the both spouses agreed to plead guilty to certain charges, pay restitution fees and serve time in prison. The couple has four minor-aged daughters and, upon handing down the sentences, the judge agreed to stagger the parents' sentences to allow one to be at home to care for the children.

Starting Jan. 5, 2015, Teresa Giudice will begin serving a 15 month prison sentence. Upon her release from prison, Joe will begin serving his 41 month sentence. Prior to the plea deal, the couple faced prison sentences of up to 50 years. In addition to agreeing to the plea deal, Teresa also expressed remorse for her actions to the judge and spoke about her decision to admit to past mistakes. The judge, however, didn't seem to believe her telling the reality star, "I don't honestly believe that you understand or respect the law."

When it comes to the IRS and criminal charges, being a celebrity appears to be a liability. In the Giudice case, the judge also expressed a desire to "send a message," in sentencing the Giudices saying, "in the eyes of the law, it doesn't matter who you are. There are consequences to pay."

Source: Forbes, "Updated: 'Real Housewives' Reality Stars Joe & Teresa Giudice Sentenced To Jail," Kelly Phillips Erb, Oct. 2, 2014

Forbes, "Real Housewives' Teresa Giudice Claims She Didn't Know That Jail Was A Possibility," Kelly Phillips Erb, Oct. 8, 2014

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