In March, celebrity couple Teresa and Joe Giudice pleaded guilty to hiding assets from bankruptcy court. According to CNN, the couple, known for their roles on “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” also entered guilty pleas for submitting phony applications in order to secure roughly $5 million in loans for construction and mortgages.
People in Minnesota and across the country who commit a white collar crime can face severe consequences for their actions, as the results of this case demonstrate.
A federal court handed down sentences in the Giudice case recently. Joe, who is not a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to prison for 41 months and fined $10,000. CNN notes that he could face deportation following the completion of his sentence. Teresa received a 15-month prison sentence and was fined $8,000. Additionally, the couple will have to forfeit $414,588. The Giudices have four daughters together, and their sentences will be staggered with Teresa serving first and then Joe entering prison when she is released.
CNN reports that a federal prosecutor in the Giudice case stated the government viewed the punishment as fair. However, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers states that federal sentencing guidelines typically create unfair losses when someone is accused of white collar crime such as fraud. For example, there are minimum sentencing requirements a judge must hand down if someone is convicted of a certain crime, such as a two-year prison sentence for identity theft.
In most situations, such as the Giudice case, white collar crimes fall under federal jurisdiction. Many states, including Minnesota, carry their own sentencing requirements for those occasions when cases are pursued outside federal court. In addition to fines and prison time, someone convicted of white collar crime may have to pay restitution, forfeit money or property or even be placed on house arrest.
There are several ways people accused of this type of crime may choose to defend themselves, including the following:
- Entrapment – In some cases, a defendant may be able to prove that law enforcement coerced the criminal activity.
- Duress – Defendants may demonstrate that they engaged in criminal behavior because they felt the threat of harm.
- Absence of intent – If a defendant can prove there was no intent to commit a crime, the results could be favorable.
Some people, such as the Giudices, plead guilty to the charges. Doing so could result in a lesser sentence and fewer fines. However, people who are facing criminal charges should consult with an attorney in order to determine the best approach to the case.