The Real Housewives of New Jersey lives — rising from the ashes of a colorful reality turned dark — a tawdry spectacle slammed hard by criminal consequences.
The leading couple, Teresa and Joe Giudice, return to Bravo tonight, and although Joe now sits in a federal prison, viewers will be able to wave goodbye through a Bravo lens. Long-suffering fans of the show will welcome Teresa home from her year-long stint up the river — her debt to society paid — spanked swindler, poised to reclaim her reality throne.
Teresa’s lawyer, James Leonard Jr. spoke out last February, reporting that his client had successfully paid her $414,588 in restitution to Wells Fargo, as ordered by U.S District Court Judge Esther Salas in 2014.
“Teresa is very much looking forward to closing this dark chapter in her life and moving forward both personally and professionally,” Leonard told NJ Advance Media, punctuating the official end of Teresa’s thirteen month sentence.
Hang—on—one—minute. The Feds have been paid — but what about the rest of the victims that Teresa and her tub-o-love hubby rooked?
Last May, Giudice’s lawyer Carlos Cuevas told U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Stacey L. Meisel that Teresa had paid, or had agreements to pay 27 of the 29 creditors listed in her 2009 bankruptcy filing. The exact numbers remain unknown, since the bankruptcy was closed in 2014. No proof has been offered to substantiate Teresa’s lawyer’s assertion…“it was always her intent to pay her bills.”
“Satisfied means paid in full in my book,” Meisel told Cuevas and co-counsel Anthony Rainone, in response to their claim. “There may have been a satisfaction of a number of creditors … but the fact remains that creditors still exist.”
It’s important to remember that the Giudice duo ripped off the American people — in the end admitting guilt to multiple counts of fraud. Economic and emotional scars can’t be healed by a nailed flimflammer spending a year in prison.
Mortgage fraud — one angle of the Giudice greed — is serious business. It affects the consumer far more directly than most think, and it is not a victimless crime. Mortgage fraud plays a part in economic decline, due to rising interest rates, insurance costs, and the direct hit that independent contractors take. Contractors face losing businesses and homes, and fraud victims often face emotional and psychological struggles.
Teresa Giudice has paid the federal government back, but it remains to be seen if other creditors listed in the couple’s $13.4 million bankruptcy filing have been fully compensated. Large and small businesses alike paid for the Giudice family to live in high style. When bills are dodged, it forces proprietors to dig into their pockets to pay their suppliers, employees, sub contractors, as well as their overhead costs. It can throw business owners unfairly into debt, negatively affect their credit, and even their home lives. The simple truth is that the Giudice family enjoyed luxuries that typical business owners’ families did without, even when the freedom to choose such extras had been honestly earned. Teresa may be “closing a dark chapter” — but until she fully satisfies what she owes, the financial blackout lingers, for those scammed by the reality couple.
As fans settle back for a renewed dance with an updated New Jersey, let’s not forget the little guys. Hard-hit and vulnerable Hurricane Sandy homeowners — allegedly fleeced by Joe’s shoddy workmanship — a construction company, plumbing supplier, glass company, laundry service, mason supplier, landscaping company, an engineering firm….the list goes on. Some of these companies have since closed their doors in the face of financial crisis, and the hurricane-scarred homeowners’ insurance money is long gone.
Viewers will see Teresa resuming life in her giant house, with a shiny new Lexus in her driveway. Teresa’s extensive wardrobe will undoubtedly be a sight for sore eyes, after wearing drab prison garb for a year. Remember Milania’s designer-jammed closet? The Giudices may still owe Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Perhaps by now, young Audriana has inherited the pilfered designer haul. Teresa is said to be in talks to finally pay off the fertility clinic that helped the couple conceive their fourth daughter — who is now almost seven years old.
Preview clips allude to a slant towards blaming Joe for Teresa’s year spent in a prison cell. Will fans be asked to buy the same old excuse — that Teresa didn’t read important documents, before she signed them? It really doesn’t matter. A person’s signature is a stamp of accountability, even if taking the time to read the print postpones a cash-fisted shopping spree. The simple truth is that Teresa and Joe were self-serving criminals — who decided that their family deserved to live better than those they ripped off. The Bravo machine may spin it differently — but make no mistake — we are all economic victims of the Giudices, and others like them. The Feds were paid — others might remain stiffed.
Now — let the criminally tarnished reality game, play on.
Becca is a Senior Editor for All About The Tea. She’s a coastal girl who loves the outdoors, and writing about the sneaky and silly side of reality TV. Her bio is short, but her snark is endless. She loves writing for the sharpest posters in the world.