Today, RHONJ stars Teresa and Joe Giudice were sentenced in the fraud case brought against them in July 2013. Neither got off easy.
Joe Giudice received a sentence of 41 months behind bars. He had been facing a possible maximum recommended sentence of 46 months and, according to the sentencing judge Esther Salas, “A sentence under the top end of the range would be appropriate,” she said, “but I have to give you credit for the life you have lived, at least to the people you have loved.” A decision about possible deportation will be made after Joe’s sentence is up as he was born in Italy and never received his US citizenship.
Later in the day, Teresa learned of her own sentence: 15 months behind bars and $414,000 in restitution. While both parents will spend time in Federal prison, Teresa will serve her sentence first, allowing Joe to parent their four children while she is gone. When she comes out, he’ll go in. She’ll face an additional two years of probation once she is out. Under the couple’s plea agreement, Teresa could have been sentenced to as much as 27 months behind bars. As for Teresa’s sentence, the judge said “For a moment, I thought about probation,” Salas said. “For a moment.” She later added: “I need to send a message that it isn’t who you are, how famous you are. If you do something wrong, there will be consequences to pay.”
Although the judge claimed to believe she showed “genuine remorse,” she added, “my gut tells me Teresa Giudice deserves to be in jail.”
Teresa must report to prison on January 5 to begin serving her sentence.
It seems that the judge’s sentencing decisions were driven in part by the Giudice’s lack of transparency in their asset disclosures to probation officials. In her pre-sentencing list of assets, Teresa Giudice failed to include several cars, ATVs and other items, claimed no jewelry and said her $3 million home is filled with just $25,000 worth of furniture (despite a $1 million insurance policy covering the same). Meanwhile, Joe Giudice failed to file tax returns for the last several years, despite the requirement to do so in his plea agreement.
“Confinement is absolutely necessary in this case,” Judge Salas said, adding, “I don’t honestly believe you respect the law.”
In the end, the judge also offered a few words of advice to Joe and Teresa:
“I do wish you luck,” Salas told Joe Giudice after she announced the sentence. “You have made some serious mistakes and you have to pay for them. But you have a lot to live for.”
“Your four daughters need to understand discipline. If you don’t have it you shouldn’t spend it,” she said. “If they won’t like you because you’re not driving a Benz or walking on Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks then they’re not your friends.”
What do you think about Teresa and Joe’s sentences? Too harsh? Too lenient? What do you think about the future of the Real Housewives of New Jersey franchise without them?