'Real Housewives of N.J.' Couple Plead Guilty to Fraud - Celebrity Justice
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'Real Housewives of N.J.' Couple Plead Guilty to Fraud

There was no table-flipping in court today as Teresa and Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" fame, both pleaded guilty to mortgage and bankruptcy fraud charges.

The Giudices accepted a plea bargain with the federal prosecutor, admitting guilt to 39 fraud-related charges, and must now forfeit money to the government, according to The Star-Ledger.

In addition to paying the government back, the couple may face incarceration depending on what the judge decides at sentencing.

Mortgage, Bankruptcy Fraud

Things certainly got real with the "Real Housewives" stars as they were taught not to mess with Uncle Sam. The couple pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud lenders and illegally obtain mortgages in a bankruptcy case.

Mortgage fraud includes illegal schemes that involve misrepresentations or misstatements on mortgage documents. Types of mortgage fraud include fraudulent supporting loan documentation, equity skimming, foreclosure rescue schemes, and property flipping. Similarly, bankruptcy fraud involves filing false bankruptcy petitions and making false representation, claims or promises concerning their filings.

For the Garden State couple, they admitted to exaggerating their income when applying for loans and then hiding their wealth in a bankruptcy filing. Teresa even falsely claimed that she worked as an executive assistant and submitted fake W-2 forms and paystubs. Joe also admitted his guilt when it came to not filing federal tax returns between 2004 and 2008, even though he earned $1 million during that period of time, The Star-Ledger reports.

Potential Sentences

As part of their plea agreement, Teresa must pay the government more than $200,000 by July 8, but the total amount to be forfeited to the government will be determined at the sentencing hearing, according to The Star-Ledger.

At the hearing, the couple could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for fraud, according to federal sentencing guidelines. When determining their sentences, the judge will allow the reality stars to make a statement or produce evidence that could mitigate their punishment. The judge will also consider factors such as whether this is a first offense, whether the offender was an accessory or the main offender, and whether the offender is genuinely remorseful.

Teresa plans to speak at her sentencing hearing and push for probation instead of prison time in order to take care of the couple's four daughters, The Star-Ledger reports. Joe, who is technically not a U.S. citizen (he's a citizen of Italy), could potentially be deported after he serves his sentence.

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