On March 4, 2013, two of the stars of the Bravo Network television show, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud and other charges in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey. Teresa and Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of bankruptcy fraud by concealment of assets, one count of bankruptcy fraud by false oaths, and one count of bankruptcy fraud by false declarations. Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file a tax return. As a result of the convictions, Joe Giudice now faces deportation to Italy.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, from September 2001 through September 2008, Joe and Teresa Giudice engaged in a mail and wire fraud conspiracy in which they submitted fraudulent applications and supporting documents to lenders in order to obtain mortgages and other loans. The Giudices falsely represented on loan applications and supporting documents that they were employed and/or receiving substantial salaries when they were not employed or not receiving such salaries.
In September 2001, Teresa Giudice applied for a $121,500 mortgage loan for which she submitted a loan application falsely claiming that she was employed as an executive assistant. She also submitted fake W-2 forms and fake pay stubs purportedly issued by her employer. For a $361,250 mortgage loan that Teresa Giudice obtained in July 2005, she and Joe Giudice prepared a loan application which falsely stated that she was employed as a realtor and that she made a monthly salary of $15,000. In reality, Teresa Giudice was not employed at the time.
The Giudices also admitted that they committed bank fraud and loan application fraud in the course of obtaining loans from several banks. On Oct. 29, 2009, they filed a fraudulent petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Joe Giudice also admitted that during tax years 2004 through 2008, he received income totaling $996,459 but did not file tax returns for those years.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman stated:
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.
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. Bankruptcy fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 8, 2014.
Of course, the possibility of seeing Real Housewife Teresa in an orange jump suit will surely boost ratings of the popular television show, and if Teresa has the same business savvy of fellow celebrity convict, Martha Stewart, then she will likely survive her incarceration and come out on top, at least financially. However, she may have to say good-bye, forever, to her husband, Joe, who is likely to be deported as a result of his conviction. Joe is not a United States citizen. Born in Saronno, Italy, Joe came to the U.S. as a small child and grew up in Patterson, New Jersey. He is an Italian citizen and a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) of the United States. Even though he has lived in the United States almost his entire life, is married to a U.S. citizen, and has four U.S. citizen children, he will almost certainly be unable to avoid deportation to Italy.
Under U.S. immigration law, certain crimes are classified as aggravated felonies, regardless of how the offense is graded by a state’s criminal code. Under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(M), a conviction for a crime of fraud or deceit in which the loss to the victim exceeds $10,000 (or a conviction for tax evasion in which the revenue loss to the Government exceeds $10,000) is an aggravated felony. Any alien, like Joe Giudice, who has been convicted of an aggravated felony as defined in Section 8 of the U.S. Code, is deportable, regardless of how long he has been in the United States or what family connections he may have. And to make matters worse for Joe, an LPR is ineligible for the main form of discretionary relief for permanent residents—cancellation of removal under 8 USC § 1229b(a). Lastly, under 8 U.S.C. §1252(a)(2)(C), judicial review is barred for any alien convicted of an aggravated felony.
Following his deportation, Joe Giudice will be ineligible to apply for re-admission to the United States for twenty years. Even if he subsequently applies for re-admission, his conviction might still bar his admission under a discretionary finding of lack of good moral character, because admission to the United States through the granting of a visa (and seeking admission at a port of entry) is entirely at the discretion of the consular officials who conduct visa interviews (and the border patrol officers who receive foreigners at U.S. ports of entry).
This sad story would have had a much happier ending if Joe had simply naturalized and become a U.S. citizen years ago. For reasons unknown, he chose not to do so and now it looks like Season 6 of “The Real Housewives” is likely to be its most dramatic yet, with lots of tearful good-byes as Teresa and Joe Giudice begin their sentences. Once Joe has served his time in federal jail, he will be handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and placed in deportation proceedings, at which time, unless there is significant change in U.S. immigration law, he will be ordered to be removed to Italy. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a spin-off of the popular show, starring Teresa and Joe, called “The Real Housewives of Saronno.”