Joe and Teresa Giudice Plead Guilty to Mortgage and Bankruptcy Fraud; Sentencing Postponed Until October 2, 2014; Bankruptcy Court Says They Are Stuck Paying Off Their $13.4 Million Debt; Giudices Put Their Home on the Market for $3.99 Million
UPDATE September 9, 2014: On September 8, 2014, just weeks before their sentencing hearing, the Giudices listed their mansion for sale. The asking price is $3,999,000, about twice the home’s current market value. The Giudices have a $1.72 million mortgage on the property; Zillow estimates the home to be worth $2,062,427.
Since the Giudices’ asking price is twice the home’s current market value, they must not be expecting any serious offers. Listing their home for sale just weeks before their sentencing hearing for money fraud could be a ploy to receive leniency from the judge. (They also put their shore house and a rental property in Lincoln Park, NJ, on the market — see the last comment on this blog post for details.)
When the Giudices filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2009, they briefly listed their home for sale for the same asking price of $3.99 million, but they pulled it from the market on June 11, 2010. If the Giudices were serious about downsizing to a more affordable home so they could start paying off their debt, they would have put their home back on the market in late 2011 when they withdrew their petitions after the bankruptcy court determined they both committed fraud by failing to disclose all their assets — and they wouldn’t have added the carport, detached garage, pool and pool house over the past three years (see photos below).
Given the chance to respond to the Trustee’s allegations, Joe Giudice had a change of heart about his bankruptcy. When questioned about hiding the family’s assets, Joe chose to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; and, soon thereafter, he settled his dispute with the Trustee. [Source]
According to the consent order, Teresa agrees to waive discharge of her debts, and acknowledges that she wishes to resolve the Trustee’s proceedings against her “without the need for further inquiry or litigation, and without her making any further admissions.” [Source]
The listing description for their home is as follows:
Spectacular stone and stucco home set on over 3.5 ac. This lovely home exudes privacy and elegance in the town that Money Magazine has named one of the top 10 best small towns in America for 8 yrs. Grand 2 story entrance with double Cinderella staircases. Spectacular custom moldings, imported marble floors and fixtures and architectural details await, in every room of this home. The gourmet kitchen features a butlers pantry and large working center island, perfect for entertaining. Grand formal great room features a huge wood burning fireplace, soaring 2 story ceiling with upstairs balcony overlooking the room. The Master Bedroom is gorgeous! Featuring 3 custom designed walk-in closets, gas fireplace, and master bath with onyx tile, steam shower, soaking tub. Endless custom touches abound in this home.
Click here for more photos of the home.
UPDATE September 5, 2014: The Giudice’s sentencing hearing has been postponed until October 2, 2014.
UPDATE JUNE 19, 2014: The Giudice’s legal problems have been put on hold amid family tragedy. Following news of the death of Joe’s father, Frank, the couple’s July 8th sentencing date has been postponed, Teresa’s lawyer, Henry Klingeman, told Us Weekly.
UPDATE APRIL 10, 2014: According to a final report issued on April 8th by the court-appointed U.S. bankruptcy trustee handling the Giudice’s case, while the couple has satisfied $7,500 in debt for attorney fees tied to the trustee, Teresa and Joe still owe creditors $13.4 million.
The bankruptcy court determined that the Giudice’s concealed assets when they filed their original petitions and subsequent amendments in 2009, so the trustee denied the discharge of their debts.
The Giudices were charged with bankruptcy fraud (among other things) in 2013, to which they pleaded guilty.
With their guilty pleas, the bankruptcy case is officially closed, which means that creditors can pursue the money owed to them, said Ronald LeVine, a bankruptcy attorney in Hackensack not affiliated with the case. “So they’re in the same boat as before,” he said. “Whatever they owed, they owe now.”
“Oh, isn’t it great that the Giudices, living their life of excess off other peoples’ backs, are not inconvenienced by silly little things like restitution or punishment. SMH” – grandma cracker, RadarOnline, May 19, 2014
“Anyone who had remorse toward their victims and a conscience would tone it down and turn from the over-indulgent lifestyle they cannot afford, nor have earned on their own.” – Sami713, RadarOnline, May 19, 2014
“One thing is clear…their showy, gleeful comfort level in this gaudy display speaks volumes. Any convicted thief on their way to prison with any conscience would be embarrassed and uncomfortable with this. I hope the feds are taking notes.” – Birdie11, RadarOnline, May 19, 2014
“She should be ashamed of herself. She used other people’s money all these years, screwed over everyone, and lives high on the hog, rubbing it in everyone’s faces. She’s disgraceful!” – Lissa, RadarOnline, May 19, 2014
Teresa and her fans have been claiming for years that she is working hard to pay off their debt, but that is not the case. She has not made any attempt to pay off their debt using the millions she has earned from her Bravolebrity—she had paid back a paltry $7,500 toward attorney fees and nothing to her other creditors. Her debt has grown from $11 million to more than $13 million. The Giudices have no intention of paying anyone back. Most of the millions that Teresa’s made since filing for bankruptcy in October 2009 has been spent frivolously on superficial things.
The following is a report from NorthJersey.com on April 9, 2014:
The report comes one month after the couple pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud — criminal charges that could land them both in jail. Teresa and Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice jointly filed for personal bankruptcy in October, 2009, listing nearly $11 million in debt on their Chapter 7 petition.
In a blog item addressing the bankruptcy, Teresa Giudice cited reasons for the filing as real estate deals that had gone bad in a bad economy. “We didn’t spend millions of dollars on gold toilets or private planes,” she wrote in the blog. “We bought buildings, fixed them up, and tried to help other people start their own businesses or be able to afford an apartment.”
Among the creditors listed in the report are Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo) for $5.3 million; the Community Bank of Bergen for $1.7 million; and the Internal Revenue Service which is owed $327,556.
The couple’s listed assets include their five-bedroom home in the Towaco section of Montville, a 2007 Cadillac Escalade SUV, household furnishings, commercial real estate, and interest in several companies; though valued at nearly $2.3 million, these assets in reality amount to a net value of just $165,000, because of liens and other costs.
The trustee did secure $15,000 in assets – from the Giudices – who paid for some of their furniture and other items, said LeVine.
While dealing with the bankruptcy, the Giudices were entangled in a second major issue tied to it: the criminal case in which they admitted concealing assets from the trustee. Both also admitted that they conspired to defraud banks and other lenders by submitting fraudulent applications and supporting documents in connection with nearly $5 million in mortgages, construction loans and lines of credit between 2001 and 2008.
Along with possible prison time, Joe Giudice is in jeopardy of being deported. The couple has not yet been sentenced for those crimes.
The Giudices are stuck paying back the $13.4 million they still owe to the IRS, the state of New Jersey, and various creditors, who are free to pursue them for repayment now that they have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges (of course, the creditors will never get their money back because the Giudices will never make $13.4 million in their lifetimes). Basically, since their bankruptcy discharge was denied in 2011 (the court denied their petitions, which they both withdrew due to allegations of fraud), the Giudices have made no real attempt to pay back creditors (having only paid $7,500 toward their total debt over the past three years), and their debt has since increased by more than $2 million, for a total of $13.4 million (the bankruptcy trustee was able to secure $15,000 from the Giudices, which was used to stop the auction of their furniture and went mostly toward administrative costs).
The following is a report from the NJ Star Ledger on April 9, 2014:
The bankruptcy trustee overseeing Joe and Teresa Giudice’s finances has submitted his final report, which says the couple only satisfied $7,500 of their debts and still owe $13.4 million to their creditors, who can once again pursue the couple for repayment – that was on hold while the case wended its way through the bankruptcy system and while the Giudices fought a massive federal indictment alleging, among other things, bankruptcy fraud. (They pleaded guilty in March to several counts of financial fraud.)
The “Real Housewives of New Jersey” couple filed for bankruptcy on October 29, 2009, blaming the recession’s impact on Joe Giudice’s construction business. But when John Sywilok, their court-appointed trustee, alleged that the couple had hid assets and income, Joe Giudice in 2011 invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination and agreed to a settlement in which the court denied discharge of his debts. His wife later followed suit.
Since then, Sywilok has sought to satisfy creditors via the Giudices’ homes and possessions, but they were mostly financed to the hilt.
According to the final report, Sywilok had been able to secure $15,000 from the couple instead of seizing and selling off their own household goods and furnishings, but most of that went toward bankruptcy administrative fees.
The couple’s outstanding debts include $5.4 million to Wachovia, $1.7 million to the Community Bank of Bergen County, $1.3 million to Dime Savings Bank, more than $500,000 to the New Jersey Division of Taxation, and more than $386,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the report.
“They are going to owe whatever they owed, as if they had not fought bankruptcy,” says Ronald LeVine, a Hackensack bankruptcy attorney unconnected with the case. “They’re completely stuck with their debt.”
The couple’s financial fraud case appeared to be triggered by the 2009 bankruptcy filing, although in addition to bankruptcy fraud, federal prosecutors alleged the couple also defrauded banks in order to obtain mortgages.
They will be sentenced July 8. Joe Giudice faces a recommended sentence of 37 to 46 months, while Teresa Giudice faces up to 27 months.
“It was a terrible decision to file for bankruptcy,” LeVine says. “They might have gotten away under the radar otherwise.”
According to TMZ , the bankruptcy trustee’s final report revealed that the Giudice’s have just $140,000 in equity in their $1.7 million house and no equity in two other properties; and the report further revealed that their extensive collection, including a Maserati, an Escalade, and two go-carts, had no equity whatsoever (however, they valued their dogs at $600).
UPDATE MARCH 4, 2014: On March 4, 2014, Joe and Teresa Giudice pleaded guilty to federal charges of mortgage and bankruptcy fraud. Joe pleaded to five counts, which included a failure to file income taxes (he was accused of skipping out on his tax returns for five years, 2004-2008, with income totaling $996,459); Teresa entered a guilty plea to four counts.
Both admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud (connected to the 13 counts of fraudulent mortgage and other loan applications), plus one count each of bankruptcy fraud by concealment of assets, bankruptcy fraud by false oaths, and bankruptcy fraud by false declarations (they were charged with 22 counts of bankruptcy fraud: the couple filed bankruptcy in October 2009, but after several amendments and hearings, they withdrew their petitions two years later, in late 2011, because a federal bankruptcy court trustee filed a lawsuit claiming they both intentionally concealed assets and earnings to avoid paying back creditors).
The pair was scheduled to face trial on the federal charges beginning on April 14, 2014. The couple’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 8, 2014.
After the plea hearing, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement:
“Teresa and Giuseppe Giudice used deception and fraud to cheat banks, bankruptcy court and the IRS. With their guilty pleas, they admitted the schemes with which they were charged. Having now confessed their wrongdoing, the Giudices face the real cost of their criminal conduct.”
Joe’s attorney said it is realistic to expect that Joe will be given prison time at the couple’s July 8th sentencing, even though he said he may ask for probation. Teresa’s lawyer made it clear after the hearing that he will push hard for a sentence of only probation for Teresa, saying that she bears less responsibility than Joe for their decade of fraud and noting that the couple has four daughters who need to be cared for.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, which are not binding on the judge, Teresa faces 21 to 27 months in federal prison while Joe faces 37 to 46 months and could likely be deported.
Said Federal Judge Esther Salas in accepting the pleas, after Italian citizen Joe Giudice finishes his time behind bars, he will face another hearing that will “likely result in … your being removed from the United States.”
The couple had previously requested separate trials [see story below]; however, since they were charged as co-conspirators in defrauding banks, other creditors and the bankruptcy court, the plea deal was contingent on both of them pleading guilty.
The conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud to which the Giudices each pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each of the three counts of bankruptcy fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Teresa’s plea agreement requires her to pay $200,000 to the government at the time of her sentencing hearing on July 8th. The plea agreements also require the Giudices to forfeit money which they obtained via conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud, in an amount to be determined by the court at sentencing.
After the hearing, Teresa’s attorney, standing before a bank of microphones and dozens of reporters on the federal courthouse’s plaza, read aloud her statement (obviously written by her legal team as part of their strategy for dealing with the judge and the sentencing):
“Today, I took responsibility for a series of mistakes I made several years ago. I have said throughout that I respect the legal process and thus I intend to address the Court directly at sentencing. I will describe the choices I made, continue to take responsibility for my decisions, and express my remorse to Judge Salas and the public. I am heartbroken that this is affecting my family—especially my four young daughters, who mean more to me than anything in the world. Beyond this, I do not intend to speak specifically about the case outside of court, at the recommendation of my attorney and out of deference to the Government and our legal system.”
Federal prosecutors filed papers on January 29, 2014 (click here to read the 46-page document at RadarOnline), opposing a bid by Teresa and Joe Giudice to be granted separate trials on money fraud charges.
Earlier in January 2014, the Giudices asked a U.S. district judge to grant them separate trials, arguing Joe has evidence of his wife’s innocence, but he would not take the witness stand if they are forced to stand trial together. Teresa, likewise, has expressed a desire to testify on her own behalf at a separate trial and to not testify against her husband.
From the report at NorthJersey.com:
The Giudices maintain they are entitled to separate trials to avoid forcing Teresa Giudice to choose between her right to testify in her own defense and her marital privilege to refrain from testifying against her husband, and to allow her husband to provide evidence of his wife’s innocence while preserving his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
Prosecutors countered that the couple provided no details about what their testimony might be or how it might exculpate or incriminate either of them. They also said the spousal privilege is not a fundamental right that warrants severance.
In his motion filed earlier in January, Joe Giudice maintains that his wife “had no knowledge of any misrepresentation” made in loan and mortgage applications or lines of credit, and that she was not aware that various properties and businesses were acquired or owned in her name. Prosecutors argued that was an inadmissible opinion regarding her state of mind and therefore not exculpatory at all.
Joe Giudice also said that he, his attorney, and his business partner signed her name on numerous occasions without her knowledge or authorization, and that others, including bank representatives, knew that she had not signed various documents.
That testimony is “only minimally exculpatory, if at all,” the prosecutors said, noting it is unclear if any of those documents are related to the alleged fraud. More importantly, prosecutors said that the Giudices “obtained many other fraudulent mortgage loans with Teresa’s direct participation, including instances in which Teresa signed the fraudulent loan documents herself, and it is on the basis of those loans that she is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and loan application fraud in the indictment.”
Prosecutors also argued Joe Giudice has provided false testimony under oath on multiple occasions and, as a result, his testimony in this case could be easily impeached, especially if he were to be tried first and convicted.”
The Giudices are scheduled to stand trial on April 14. If convicted, they could face lengthy prison terms, and Joe Giudice, who is an Italian citizen, could face deportation.
Concerning Joe’s claim in the motion filed earlier in January 2014 that Teresa “was not aware that various properties and businesses were acquired or owned in her name,” prosecutors certainly have obtained footage (video below) from season 2 episode 11, taped around the time the Giudices filed bankruptcy, where Teresa says in an interview segment (TH): “I own a lot of properties in my name.”
In the court filing, federal prosecutors wrote that Joe “has provided false testimony under oath on multiple occasions,” and that “his marriage to Teresa and status as the father of her four children provides grounds for impeachment in the severance context because these relationships alone suggest bias as a motive to fabricate.”
Prosecutors cited a written finding by U.S. bankruptcy Judge Morris Stern regarding Joe’s testimony in a case filed by his former business partner that was tried in November/December 2009:
“Giuseppe’s testimony was ‘thoroughly unconvincing’ and he was ‘unbounded as a prevaricator in spinning a tale’ with a ‘say-anything, do-anything’ attitude on the stand (Judge Stern went on to hold that the ‘extraordinary web of lies and misrepresentations woven by Giudice to implement and cover his misconduct reflects on his approach to business matters and suggests his disregard for legal restraints which would bind others’).”
Federal prosecutors also wrote that Teresa was directly involved in many of the fraudulent mortgage loans, including instances in which she signed the fraudulent loan documents herself or she authorized Joe to sign her name:
“It has been long known to both the government and the defense that, in some instances, the Giudices obtained fraudulent mortgage loans in Teresa’s name by having someone else sign for Teresa at closing – either Giuseppe, with Teresa’s authorization, or his business partner or attorney, with Giuseppe’s authorization.
However, it is also true that the Giudices obtained many other fraudulent mortgage loans with Teresa’s direct participation, including instances in which Teresa signed the fraudulent loan documents herself, and it is on the basis of those loans that she is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and loan application fraud in the Indictment.”
Also regarding the severance of their trials, federal prosecutors wrote that because Joe and Teresa were participants in the same conspiracy, the loan fraud and bankruptcy fraud counts were properly joined since “the defendants, through the use of false statements and false tax returns, induced [the victim] to loan them money and then filed a fraudulent bankruptcy petition in an effort to avoid having to pay it back”:
“Teresa and Joe appear to share the hope that each might have ‘a better chance of acquittal in a separate trial.’ This, however, is not a sufficient basis to sever two defendants who are both charged as participants in the same conspiracy and fraudulent scheme. Under this standard, the mortgage fraud and bankruptcy fraud counts are properly joined. “
“Counts 1 through 13 allege that Defendants fraudulently incurred large amounts of loan debt by making false statements on loan applications and supporting documents.
“Counts 14 through 36 allege that Defendants then attempted to fraudulently discharge that debt by making additional false statements during the bankruptcy process.
“Furthermore, in many cases, the properties the Defendants acquired with fraudulent loans were the same properties that Defendants either failed to disclose their ownership of or concealed income from during the bankruptcy process.
“Because the conduct charged in counts 1 through 13 provided the impetus for the conduct charged in counts 14 through 36, and because there is factual overlap among the counts, therefore, the counts are properly joined. See United States v. White… finding loan fraud and bankruptcy fraud counts to be properly joined because ‘the defendants, through the use of false statements and false tax returns, induced [the victim] to loan them money and then filed a fraudulent bankruptcy petition in an effort to avoid having to pay it back’.”
In season 4 episode 14, Teresa and Joe taped a scene with their bankruptcy attorney, James Kridel, regarding the fraud case filed against them by Joe’s former business partner, Joe Mastropole. During an interview segment (TH), Teresa addressed the fact that Joe had forged Mastropole’s name on mortgage documents. Believing Joe’s admission to forgery was the reason for the judgment in favor of Mastropole (Joe Giudice was ordered to pay $260,000 still owed as part of their business divorce agreement), Teresa said: “See! You gotta lie!” (click here for the clip). Apparently, Teresa lied when she testified in the case, which cleared her of any responsibility for paying off Mastropole even though she also signed the business divorce agreement.
The following is a synopsis of Mastropole v. Giudice (bankruptcy Judge Morris Stern concluded that the money owed to Mastropole should be excepted from the Guidice’s bankruptcy discharge).
Teresa also was named in the fraud case filed by Joe Mastropole and was called to testify because she had signed the business divorce agreement which obligated the Giudices to pay Mastropole a total of $586,000 — $300,000 immediately with an ultimate payoff by December 1, 2007. The Giudices breached the agreement by failing to pay off the balance owed of $286,000; instead, they included it in their bankruptcy petition filed on October 29, 2009 as debt to be discharged.
Mastropole filed a lawsuit to prevent the debt from being discharged. During testimony at the proceeding in Mastropole v. Giudice on November 19, December 14 and December 15, 2010, Teresa was not implicated in any of the actual business affairs between Mastropole and J. Giudice, other than she had been a titleholder to certain property and had signed the business divorce agreement.
Attorney John Testa took the witness stand and said he represented the Giudices in the business divorce litigation with Mastropole, which was to have culminated with the June 13, 2007 settlement agreement. Testa identified the personal guarantee in the settlement agreement appeared to have been signed by Teresa and Joe Giudice and witnessed by himself. As to his witnessing the Giudices’ signatures, Testa said that J. Giudice signed in his presence, but Teresa’s signature was already on the guarantee when her husband brought it to him. Testa said he “would not accept that that way,” and said he telephoned Teresa to question her about the document. Testa said he went through it with her “and made sure that was, in fact, her signature.”
Teresa confirmed that she did not work in her husband’s real estate business or with Mastropole-J. Giudice business ventures. “I was not involved in their business,” as she put it. She said she recently became aware that her name was “on” certain real estate. She testified that she never met Testa and that she did not recall the guarantee nor any telephone conversation with Testa about the guarantee.
Wrote Judge Morris Stern: “Teresa was vague throughout most of her testimony, and particularly so in this regard. The singular area of Teresa’s testimony which was firm and emphatic was as to her purported signature on the personal guarantee. She said she did not sign the document.”
On cross-examination regarding Teresa’s signature on the guarantee, J. Giudice said: “I might have signed that . . . I don’t know.” He also said he did not know if Testa had called Teresa about the guarantee. J. Giudice also confirmed that he didn’t tell Testa about the Mastropole discharge of mortgage.
When the plaintiff’s case ended and the defense moved for dismissal, the court denied the motion as to J. Giudice; however, the court dismissed the case against Teresa in its entirely based upon the total absence of evidence connecting her (other than as a spouse) to her husband’s real estate business affairs, not because they believed her testimony.
UPDATE MAY 5, 2014: NJ.com reported on May 5, 2014, that a Bergen County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against Teresa, saying she played no role in a fraud perpetrated by her husband against his former business partner Joseph Mastropole:
Judge Robert Polifroni also dismissed much of Mastropole’s case against Joe Giudice, although he left the door open for Mastropole to seek punitive damages against his former partner for forging his name on documents related to the discharge of a mortgage on an East Orange apartment building, part of their so-called “business divorce” in 2007.
Mastropole’s name was taken off the mortgage, and Joe Giudice refinanced the property without paying him the $260,000 Mastropole was due.
The case predates the Morris County couple’s rise to fame on “Real Housewives,” but it became part of the show’s drama as Mastropole filed suit to have the debt excluded from the couple’s 2009 bankruptcy filing.
In 2011, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Morris Stern sided with Mastropole, saying the debt should be excluded from the bankruptcy due to the forgery and calling Joe Giudice “unbounded as a prevaricator in spinning a tale,” and that “the extraordinary web of lies and misrepresentations woven by Giudice to implement and cover his misconduct reflects on his approach to business matters, and suggests his disregard for legal restraints which would bind others.”
The Giudices later withdrew their bankruptcy application amid accusations that the couple hid assets and income, and were indicted in 2013 for bankruptcy and bank fraud. They reached a plea deal earlier this year in which Joe Giudice faces up to nearly four years in prison and Teresa Giudice as much as 27 months.
The couple still owes $13.4 million to various creditors.
In his ruling, Polifroni reasoned the debt was eventually paid to Mastropole via a foreclosure on the property, and ruled against Mastropole’s request for attorney’s fees, which exceed the actual amount of the original debt. Polifroni also sided with Teresa Giudice, saying Stern had made a detailed a review of her involvement and found an absence of evidence connecting her to her husband’s real estate affairs.
Michael DeMarco, who represents the Giudices, says he is “extremely pleased” with Polifroni’s ruling, but Mastropole’s attorney William Michelson says he will likely appeal Polifroni’s ruling and seek punitive damages against Giudice for the mortgage fraud.
UPDATE MARCH 7, 2014: Joe Mastropole told RadarOnline in January 2011 that when Teresa took the stand in Mastropole v. Giudice she acted as if she was clueless about their financial affairs, even stating that she did not sign their bankruptcy petition. And under cross examination, when asked about her beach house, she acted befuddled, saying, “Is that in my name?”
However, according to Mastropole, Teresa was at every real estate closing. Mastropole told ibuysss.com:
“She knew every mortgage and attended every closing on all properties in her name and paid by way of her American Express card. Who is she kidding?” [Mastropole named Fred Roughgarden as the closing attorney.]
In season 3 episode 8, Teresa and Joe’s bankruptcy attorney, James Kridel, said both Teresa and Joe signed the bankruptcy petition, and although they filed it jointly, the court had chosen to handle the resolution for each of them separately (clip here for a recap; click here for the clip).
The following is a December 16, 2010 report by the New York Post on Teresa’s testimony in the fraud case filed by Mastropole against the Giudices.
Befuddled and broke “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice told a federal judge yesterday she had no clue she declared bankruptcy until well after papers were filed — and her shady husband admitted he forged her name on everything from their mortgage to his business documents.
“I’ll sign my name right now; it’s not my signature,” said Giudice after being questioned on a slew of documents — including the mortgage to the family’s New Jersey mansion and a handful of investment properties — purporting to bear her loopy John Hancock.
At one point, she was asked during cross-examination if she signed the mortgage to the couple’s Jersey Shore beach house.
She gulped, “Is that under my name?”
She said she left all matters up to her husband, Joe, who later claimed that he and others stuck her name on all kinds of documents that she knew nothing about.
He also copped to forging his business partner’s signature, in addition to that of a notary and an employee.
“My husband, if he had to tell me something, I’m sure he would,” Giudice said.
The couple — who are almost $11 million in debt — declared bankruptcy last spring.
The clueless cable-TV star — who once declared she was “too pretty to work” — even had to turn to her husband for help when the lawyer asked her what year they got married. “1999?” she said, looking at her husband.
“I’m drawing a blank.”
Giudice was in court for a hearing on a lawsuit filed by her husband’s former business partner. During a break from testifying, Giudice’s famous temper erupted at the wife of the ex-business partner’s lawyer. She accused Monica Ciccone [who later changed the spelling of her last name to Chacon] of spreading rumors about her.
“You’re violating ethnics!” screamed Giudice, who’s famous for her malapropisms.
Her husband’s former partner, Joe Mastropole, has sued the Giudices and accused them of forging his name on mortgage documents in order to pocket $1 million.
Yesterday’s hearing stemmed from a related case, in which Mastropole is trying to get back $260,000 he says that Joe Giudice owed him before he went bankrupt.
Mastropole testified that he didn’t believe Teresa Giudice was ignorant of her husband’s machinations. He called her a “good actor.”
A defiant Joe Giudice took the stand and blatantly admitted to a slew of forgeries. “Everybody does it,” he said, adding he “didn’t think it was a big deal.”
Joe Mastropole also told RadarOnline in January 2011 that he’ll never recover any debt because Teresa’s the one with the money (Teresa herself has proclaimed that “I do work hard and make my own money” and that “my money is mine and Joe’s money is mine,” which must mean that Joe can’t use “her” money to pay off the debt):
“I’m disappointed because she’s [Teresa] the one making income and his money is fraudulent, untraceable and untaxed. She’s the only one bringing money in right now… You can’t really go after him. Even though I’m an exception to his discharge, I think his money is untraceable so it will be hard for me to recover any debt.”
During the reunion special for season 3, Andy Cohen asked about the case and whether they paid off Mastropole. Teresa said he’s paid in full and declined to comment further. However, in the wake of the Giudices’ federal indictment on money fraud, Mastropole told RadarOnline in August 2013 that the Giudices still have not paid him the balance due:
“I never received a penny from them.”
Public records show that the $255,000 owed to Joe Mastropole (the initial judgment of $260,000 was reduced to $255,000 by the court) is still an open judgment against Joe Giudice.
According to reports at ibuysss.com, the Giudices were never well off — the true source of their income was flipping mortgages. They would refinance or get second and third mortgages well over the values of their properties and basically use money from the new loans to make payments on the old ones loans. Then, on some of the properties, they would stop making payments and let them go into foreclosure (the apartment buildings, in particular). It was essentially a mortgage Ponzi scheme where they committed mortgage fraud over and over again.
Flashback: Joe Giudice v. Joe Gorga Fight Voiced by Chief Wiggum & Moe – “He’s Bitin’ My Nuts, WTF?!”
In the video above, Hank Azaria does voiceover as Chief Wiggum and Moe from The Simpsons for the Joe Giudice v. Joe Gorga fight at Lake George, The Real Housewives of New Jersey season 5 – the episode where Gorga’s spray-on hair polish gets on everybody in the room.
Juicy Joe’s tagline for season 5 should have been: “He’s bitin’ my nuts, WTF?!“
Regarding a takedown of Gorga and Laurita – remember during/after the fight when Joe Gorga said to Juicy, “You made me a bum, just like you!”? – Teresa once said that Juicy showed her brother the “business” (robbing banks by pen, not gun, by amassing loan money and paying it with the next loan). Joe Gorga has done almost the same as Juicy; and Joe Gorga now blames Juicy for showing him the tricks, yet only Gorga has managed to keep up with the loans, even if it means stealing/forfeiting his parents house.
In the video above from April 2010 or earlier, Teresa Giudice gives a tour of her home and the furnishings (custom cabinets, Versace vases, Gucci dishes and glasses, etc.), much of which (including the renovation of the home), was purchased with borrowed money (allegedly obtained by defrauding lenders) rather than earned income (they tried to discharge their debt by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in October 2009 – the U.S. government has charged the Giudices with lying to the bankruptcy court, including hiding assets and income that could be used to pay off creditors).
Teresa likes nice things, which she is not ashamed to admit. She certainly didn’t back off on spending before or after filing bankruptcy on October 29, 2009. In the link below, the U.S. bankruptcy trustee claimed that Teresa went on a $60,000 shopping spree after filing bankruptcy (the PDF file below also includes a receipt for purchases she made about two months before filing):
The following is a CBS report about Teresa’s spending spree.
Bankrupt “Real Houswives” Star Teresa Giudice Reportedly Spent $60,000 on Furniture and Luxury Goods
August 18, 2010
Filing for bankruptcy didn’t stop “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice from doing what she does best – shopping.
The Bravo star, who owes creditors roughly $10.8 million with her husband Joe, allegedly spent $60,000 on home furnishings and luxury goods just days after filing for bankruptcy last October, according to court documents obtained by E! Online.
The couple’s lawyer, Jim Kridel, defended Giudice’s lavish shopping spree and said she didn’t do anything wrong.
“That was the money she earned as an advance for her book ‘Skinny Italian,'” Kridel told People magazine.”Since she earned it after the filing, she was absolutely free to spend it.”
Kridel added that Giudice needed to buy household necessities, but also acknowledged that her spending spree would “draw scrutiny.”
“She needed to re-buy furniture because she didn’t have any furniture in the house,” Kridel told People. “It’s a big house and she wanted furniture consistent with her style on the show. There is nothing wrong with doing that, except that it doesn’t look good for her to be doing it.”
Note from Fame: Teresa’s cookbook advances for Skinny Italian were prior to her bankruptcy filing; however, she failed to disclose this, as well as other income (including her Bravo raise for season 2), on her petition filed on October 29, 2009, which is why, in the federal indictment against the Giudices, counts 12-34 include bankruptcy fraud.
In October 2011, Jacqueline went off on Twitter, saying Teresa was laughing at beating the system and planning to file bankruptcy again:
In the video below is another flashback with Teresa, Caroline and Jacqueline, happily explaining how “the attention they get is always positive.”
For a final flashback, a week before Joe and Teresa filed bankruptcy on October 29, 2009, they celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a helicopter ride and diamonds. Teresa told Jacqueline, “I really want him to make it big.” Joe told Chris, “It ain’t like the money’s flowin’ like it yous ta, ya know what I mean?”
Caroline Manzo predicted in a testimonial (TH) during season 4 episode 13 – which was taped in 2011 – that Teresa Giudice would leave her husband if he goes to prison and then she would write a tell-all book for the sole purpose of making money.