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Unger comments to E! News on Celebrity Fraud Case

Teresa & Joe Giudice

New Jersey Tax Attorney Todd Unger was recently asked by E! News to provide commentary on the highly publicized charges brought against Joe and Teresa Giudice. 

Joe and Teresa, famous for their roles in the Real Housewives of New Jersey, are now making headlines in a 39-count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications, bankruptcy fraud, and tax evasion.

Unger, who has vast experience in this area of tax law, cooperatively provided his expert opinion on the case. 

Unger told E! News that the couple’s celebrity status likely worked as a disadvantage in this situation. Unger explained, it is easy for government to explore inconsistencies especially when you are in the public eye.

Unger stated that “it doesn’t take a forensic accountant to discover that vital information is withheld on a bankruptcy petition especially when you neglect to report the true income from the reality show, the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  “That is easy information for a bankruptcy trustee to uncover.”

As for tax evasion, Joe is accused of failing to file income tax returns for the years 2004-2008, during which he allegedly earned $1 million.

After reading the indictment, Unger stated that “I actually think Joe may have gotten lucky.  The indictment alleges the filing of false and fraudulent tax returns and Forms W-2 in connection with obtaining a loan. The government had a few counts for the failure to file an income tax return; however, it did not have a count for the filing of a false and fraudulent tax return.  The latter is a felony that carries a fine of up to $100,000 and 3 years in jail, or both.  Whereas failing to file an income tax return is a misdemeanor with a fine of $25,000 and up to 1 year in jail, or both.”

According to court documents, Joe and Teresa “did knowingly and intentionally conspire and agree with each other and others to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud the Lenders and to obtain money from the Lenders by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises …”

Perhaps the Giudice’s larger disadvantage, according to Unger, is the involvement of both the IRS and the Department of Justice in the matter.  Unger said the enforcement agencies are powerful independently but when they begin coordinating, that power multiplies.

Mr. Unger said the case would be interesting to watch unfold, especially to observe how the government treats a couple with such a high profile.  “These high-publicized cases serve as the best advertisement for the government,” Unger said.

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