Erstwhile reality TV star Teresa Giudice surrendered to federal authorities in Connecticut to begin her 15-month prison sentence for bankruptcy fraud. After she completes her term, her husband, Giuseppe Giudice, will begin serving a 41-month sentence.
Last year, the couple pleaded guilty to charges that they concealed assets in their Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Mr. Giudice also pleaded guilty to tax evasion, loan fraud and mortgage fraud. He will serve an 18-month sentence for presenting a false identification concurrently with the federal prison term. Mr. Giudice, who is not an American citizen, also faced possible deportation proceedings.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Ms. Giudice is not eligible for release until December 2015.
When filing your voluntary petition, it is important that you be completely upfront with your attorney about all your assets. Most of them are exempt, and the trustee normally only seizes nonexempt assets if there is a benefit to the creditors or the bankruptcy estate. So, there is a good chance that you may be able to keep your used fishing boat, because by the time the trustee pays off the loan balance, prepares the boat for sale, and stores it until a buyer is found, the creditors may see very little money, if any.
Bankruptcy fraud is a very serious charge that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. In addition, the court will normally order that your debts will not be discharged. A prosecutor must prove that:
- A bankruptcy case was pending: It may be a defense if amended schedules were filed prior to the date of the indictment.
- The property was part of the bankruptcy estate: All nonexempt property is part of the bankruptcy estate.
- The debtor concealed property: This can mean hiding assets, preventing discovery, withholding information or transferring property. The concealment does not have to be successful.
- With intent to defraud: A jury will normally infer intent if the prior three elements are clearly established, unless the debtor has a really convincing explanation.
The government normally adds mail fraud and/or wire fraud charges, as well as other allegations, which significantly increases the potential penalties.
Contact John Hargrave and Associates
We have provided comprehensive counsel to individuals in and around Barrington, New Jersey, since 1977. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-547-6500.