In early January, Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Guidice reported to federal prison in Danbury, CT. She is now serving a 15 month sentence for committing bankruptcy fraud and mail and wire fraud conspiracy. Her husband, Joe Giudice, was sentenced 41 months. He will have to report to prison after Ms. Guidice gets out, as their sentences were staggered so they wouldn’t be in prison at the same time and unable to care for their four daughters.
The couple admitted to hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitting phony mortgage and construction loan applications to get their hands on approximately $5 million. Mr. Giudice also pleaded guilty to failing to pay more than $200,000 in taxes. At the Giudices’ sentencing in October, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas criticized the couple for a “pattern of obstruction, concealment and manipulation,” but she did sentence Mrs. Giudice to less time than the range requested by the U.S. attorney’s office. Additionally, because her husband is not a U.S. citizen, he could be deported and will face an immigration hearing when he completes his sentence.
Back in December of last year, Mrs. Giudice sued her former bankruptcy attorney James Kridel for legal malpractice and negligence. Mr. Kridel has called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and flatly denied the claims therein. He stated: “We can only rely on the facts that were provided to us. I don’t wish her any ill will, but I would have preferred a ‘thank you’ rather than a lawsuit.”
While this case may be of interested from a “gossip” standpoint, it does illustrate the importance of providing full disclosure in a bankruptcy case and carefully reviewing a bankruptcy petition. Obtaining a fresh start through Bankruptcy discharge is a special right and should not be taken for granted.