Two stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey
were indicted Monday on federal fraud charges, accused of exaggerating their income while applying for loans before their TV show debuted in 2009, then hiding their improving fortunes in a bankruptcy filing after their first season aired.
Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice
, 43, of Montville Township, N.J., were charged in a 39-count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.
The reality TV stars submitted fraudulent mortgage and other loan applications from 2001 through 2008, a year before their show debuted on Bravo, making phony claims about their employment status and salaries, the indictment reads.
Joe Giudice also failed to file tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008, when he is alleged to have earned nearly $1 million, the government said.
A spokesman for Bravo said he had no comment but Teresa released a statement to New Jersey's Star-Ledger
: "Today is a most difficult day for our family," she said
. "I support Joe and, as a wonderful husband and father, I know he wants only the best for our lovely daughters and me. I am committed to my family and intend to maintain our lives in the best way possible, which includes continuing my career. As a result, I am hopeful that we will resolve this matter with the Government as quickly as possible."
Her attorney also told the paper in an email, "Teresa will plead 'not guilty.' The judicial process that begins today ... is a search for the truth. As it moves forward, we look forward to vindicating her."
The two were scheduled to make their initial court appearances Tuesday.
"The indictment returned today alleges the Giudices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. "Everyone has an obligation to tell the truth when dealing with the courts, paying their taxes and applying for loans or mortgages. That's reality."
When Teresa filed for a mortgage loan of $121,000 in 2001, she falsely claimed she worked as an executive assistant, submitting fake W-2 forms and fake paystubs as part of the ruse, the indictment said.
In their petition for bankruptcy protection, initiated in October 2009, the couple concealed businesses they owned, rental income they received, and Teresa's true income from the Real Housewives
, website sales and personal appearances, the indictment said.
Prosecutors said they also hid their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming second year of the show, which is in its fifth season.