Attorney Carla M. HandyIn the summer of 2013, I reported that one of the stars of the television show, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, was charged with bankruptcy fraud in federal court.  The indictment in August, 2013, included 39 criminal counts including failing to list all income and assets in their bankruptcy schedules and, further, submitting false documents and providing false income and employment information in loan applications.  In November, 2013, Teresa Guidice and her husband, Joe, were indicted on two additional charges for bank fraud and loan application fraud in Federal District Court in Newark, New Jersey.  The new charges stem from a $361,250.00 mortgage loan obtained by Teresa Guidice in July, 2005.  The indictment alleges Mrs. Guidice falsely reported in the loan application that she was employed as a realtor earning $15,000.00 per month.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office maintains Mrs. Guidice was actually unemployed at this time, and certainly not earning $15,000.00 per month.

Teresa Guidice pled not guilty to the two additional indictments and her defense attorney has accused the U.S. Attorney’s office of “piling on.”  However, it is worth noting that after 39 previous indictments, the addition of two more is strong indicator of how serious the U.S. Attorney is about prosecuting this case.  If convicted, the Guidices could each face a substantial prison sentence.  Teresa Guidice’s husband, Joe, is an Italian citizen and, if convicted, could be subject to deportation.  A trial date has been set in Federal District Court for February 24, 2014.

As I stated in my previous blog, this case is the poster child for what not to do in your bankruptcy filing.  We may never know if the debtors in this case were simply supremely arrogant in believing no one would discover the significant omissions in their bankruptcy schedules or if they received bad legal advice.  But it is clear the debtors failed to follow the golden rules in filing for bankruptcy relief – tell the truth and do not leave anything out!  If you are considering a filing for bankruptcy relief but are concerned about what the rules require and how they may affect you, please contact one of our locations nearest you in Alabama, Mississippi or Tennessee for a free, confidential consultation with one of our experienced, licensed attorneys.

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