Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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Mail, wire fraud charges filed against reality television stars

Reality TV watchers in Atlanta probably recall watching Teresa Giudice flip a table over during a heated argument with her sister-in-law. Now, the star of Real Housewives of New Jersey and her husband Joe are in the midst of another heated situation: this time, with the federal government. The government is accusing the couple of committing numerous different types of fraud.

The couple is being accused of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, bank fraud and lying on a loan application. Prosecutors in the case claim that the couple received millions in mortgages and other loans because they allegedly submitted fraudulent mortgage and loan applications up to a year before the reality show started.

The government alleges that Teresa falsely claimed that she worked as an executive assistant and that, while applying for a mortgage loan, submitted fake tax forms and fake paystubs. However, Teresa's attorney stated despite the allegations against her, she will plead not guilty to the charges. It is unknown how her husband will plead.

Mail and wire fraud are very complex charges. Federal prosecutors bring mail fraud charges if it is suspected that the defendants used the mail to further or commit a criminal offense. Wire fraud charges can be brought if the use of a cell phone, land line phone, computer or any other type of communication device is suspected of being used to commit a criminal offense. This essentially means that if defendants are found to have committed mortgage or bank fraud and used a phone of the mail to commit the crime, they will likely face more jail time.

Although the accusations by the federal government against the couple are very serious, it does not mean that the government will prevail. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty; if the prosecution's investigation can be shown as inconsistent, for example, charges may be reduced or thrown out altogether. Atlanta residents accused of fraud may want to discuss their options with a legal professional.

Source: CBS Philly, "2 'Real Housewives of NJ' stars charged with fraud," July 29, 2013

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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