(In 10th paragraph, corrects NBC’s ownership from GE to Comcast. Editor’s note: Please be advised that first sentence contains language that may offend some readers)
By Emily Flitter
NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) - She was called a “dumb ass” on national television on Sunday, but things got worse for reality TV “Real Housewife” Teresa Guidice on Monday when she and her husband, Giuseppe, were charged with fraud and tax evasion.
The two cast members of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” were indicted in U.S. District Court in New Jersey on a total of 39 charges, including bankruptcy fraud, making false statements on loan applications, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, according to court filings.
Giuseppe, 43, who is known as Joe, was also accused of failing to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008, illegally earning $1 million.
The charges are the latest in a string of high-drama run-ins with family members and the law by the Guidices in recent years, as the TV network Bravo Media airs the fifth season of its New Jersey version of “Real Housewives,” a television franchise that follows wealthy couples and their families in several North American cities.
“Today is a most difficult day for our family,” Teresa Guidice said in a statement emailed to the press by her lawyer, Henry Klingeman.
“I support Joe, and as a wonderful husband and father I know he wants only the best for our lovely daughters and me,” she said. “I am committed to my family and intend to maintain our lives in the best way possible, which includes continuing my career. As a result, I am hopeful that we will resolve this matter with the Government as quickly as possible.”
Klingeman said that Teresa, 41, will plead not guilty.
“The judicial process that begins today with an indictment is a search for the truth,” Klingeman said. “As it moves forward, we look forward to vindicating her.”
Joe’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for Bravo, which is owned by Comcast’s NBC Universal, declined to comment.
On the “Real Housewives” show, the Guidices are known for their fierce fights, bankruptcy and other legal problems, including Joe’s 2010 and 2011 arrests for driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license.
“The indictment returned today alleges the Guidices lied to the bankruptcy court, to the IRS and to a number of banks,” Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, said in a press release. “Everyone has an obligation to tell the truth when dealing with the courts, paying their taxes and applying for loans or mortgages. That’s reality.”
The bank fraud and loan application fraud carry maximum penalties of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The Guidices are each scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor in Newark on Tuesday.
The Guidices’ problems aren’t the first legal woes to befall participants of “Real Housewives,” which has versions in New York, Beverly Hills, Atlanta and Vancouver.
On an episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” two stars had an on-air battle over Tyrone Gilliams, a Philadelphia commodities trader turned hip-hop promoter who was convicted earlier this year of defrauding investors out of at least $4 million and was profiled in a Reuters Special Report.
Teresa Guidice began appearing on the show in 2009. She has four young children. The author of several Italian cookbooks, Guidice has also appeared on Donald Trump’s reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Episode nine of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” aired on Bravo on Sunday and featured a fight between Teresa and her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga. Another participant in the show called Teresa a “dumb ass” for entering into too many interpersonal conflicts. (Reporting By Emily Flitter; Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Matthew Goldstein and David Jones; Editing by Leslie Adler)