Teresa Guidice of the Real Housewives of New Jersey was charged with bankruptcy fraud in federal court in 2013. On March 4, 2014, she and her husband, Joe, pled guilty to four criminal counts in Federal District Court in Newark, New Jersey. On October 2, 2014, Federal District Judge Ester Salas sentenced the Real Housewife to 15 months in federal prison to be followed by 41 months to be served by her husband. Two of the four counts for which she was convicted included bankruptcy fraud for concealment and bankruptcy fraud for false oaths.
In response to her sentencing for bankruptcy fraud, Teresa Guidice told US Magazine “I wish I could do everything differently. But then again, maybe not, because this is a life lesson that I need to learn and will learn, and will teach my children for the rest of my life, just as Judge Salas told me she expected me to do.” It appears that Judge Salas made an impression upon the Real Housewife. As reported on NorthJersey.com, Judge Salas did not pull any punches in the sentencing hearing. From the bench, Judge Salas admonished the couple for inflating their own importance rather than using their talents to help others. “If you don’t have it, you shouldn’t spend it,” Salas said. “In the eyes of the law it doesn’t matter who you are.”
I have used this topic in prior blogs to emphasize how critically important it is to be truthful and to fully disclose all required information in bankruptcy schedules. The Guidices have learned this lesson the hard way: with a stint in federal prison. Judge Salas was willing to consider probation as opposed to a federal prison sentence for Teresa Guidice until she perceived a continuing trend of untruthfulness by the defendant. As reported in NorthJersey.com, the Judge told the defendants “[I]’ve been a judge for seven years and I have yet to ever see the amount of confusion and work that went into these financial disclosures.” She disputed that the Guidices were taking full responsibility for their actions when she found “the Guidices had tried to delay justice, hide assets and place blame on their phalanx of lawyers and accountants. “Its as if you thumb your nose at this court,” said Salas. “I don’t honestly believe you understand and respect the law.”
The disclosure rules governing the filing of a petition under the Bankruptcy Code are critically important, as evidenced by the Guidices’ federal prison sentences. It is, therefore, critically important to seek and follow the advice of competent bankruptcy attorneys. If you are considering relief, 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.