Just when things were looking up for Teresa.
Sunday night's episode of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey showed hero/villain Teresa Giudice making up with her brother, Joe, and his wife, Melissa, with whom she'd been feuding for years, in an emotional catharsis.
Her triumph was short-lived. Monday morning brought the news that Teresa and her husband, also named Joe, were being indicted in federal court on 39 counts of fraud and tax charges. In the indictment — fully broken down below — government investigators claim that over a period of years, Teresa and Joe allegedly lied repeatedly on bank loan applications, amassing millions of dollars using fraudulent documents. The combination of charges could result in more than 50 years of prison time and heavy fines if the Giudices are found guilty. On top of everything else, because Joe is an Italian citizen, his legal mess carries the additional threat of deportation.
In the press release issued Monday by the U.S. Attorney's office, Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen of the Newark Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation, said, "The reality is that this type of criminal conduct will not go undetected and individuals who engage in this type of financial fraud should know they will be held accountable."
Teresa's attorney, Henry Klingeman, told BuzzFeed that Teresa will be pleading not guilty at the Giudices' arraignment on Aug. 14. "The judicial process that begins now with an indictment is a search for the truth," he wrote in a statement. "As it moves forward, we look forward to vindicating her."
Joe Giudice's attorney was not available to comment. And Bravo would not comment on the charges.
It's not the first time the Giudices, who have four daughters who also star on Real Housewives of New Jersey, have had financial and legal trouble. They filed for bankruptcy in 2009 — which factors into the indictment, as you will see below — with a debt totaling nearly $11 million. And Joe Giudice is currently awaiting trial on criminal charges that he posed as his brother in 2010 in order to get a driver's license. (His license had been suspended after a DUI.) The soap operatics of the Giudices' problems have been closely followed by both Bravo's cameras and the gossip press.
But this week's developments are beyond anything the couple has faced before.
The charges in the indictment are confusing. Let's look into them.