Real Housewife of New Jersey Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, 43, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud in Federal Court. Photos by John Munson/The Star-Ledger
“Real Housewives of New Jersey” stars Joe and Teresa Giudice want to be tried separately because he does not plan to testify on his own behalf and therefore wouldn’t be able to testify that his wife was not involved in the alleged fraud, according to a new court filing in their bank and bankruptcy fraud case.
“He feels he has evidence that could exonerate her,” Joe Giudice’s lawyer Miles Feinstein tells The Star-Ledger.
In July, prosecutors hit the couple with the 39-count indictment, later amended to 41 counts, alleged they conspired to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in loans and later hid assets during their bankruptcy proceedings. The trial is set for April.
According to Feinstein’s filing, the reality show star declares his wife had no knowledge of mortgage “misrepresentations”; that she was not aware of various properties and businesses bought or owned in her name; and that Joe Giudice, his former business partner Joseph Mastropole, and his attorney Fred Roughgarden signed Teresa Giudice’s name several times without her knowledge. (Mastropole and Roughgarden did not immediately return calls for comment.)
Teresa Giudice’s lawyer Henry Klingeman filed a similar motion, stating that if the trials are not separated, Teresa Giudice could not invoke her marital privilege against testifying against her husband.
According to Feinstein's petition, Joe Giudice "will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination at this trial," although in a phone interview today, Feinstein would not say that categorically. "We haven't gone to trial yet. We haven't even gotten full discovery yet. However it's our position that he wouldn't testify during the trial on his behalf, but in a separate trial he would testify for his wife."
Joe Giudice pleaded the Fifth Amendment during his bankruptcy proceedings in 2011, when a trustee for his creditors questioned him about hiding income and assets. The couple subsequently soon abandoned their quest for bankruptcy relief. (In a related development, a trustee for their creditors recently agreed not to force the couple to sell their lavish Towaco mansion to help satisfy their debts because they owe more money on it than it is worth.)
In the new court papers, Feinstein also asked that the bank and mortgage loan fraud counts be prosecuted separately from the bankruptcy fraud counts because they are “factually and fundamentally distinct,” and could confuse the jury. And he requested that the entire indictment be dismissed due to “improper ‘spillover.’”
“The prosecution is not permitted to allege a single conspiracy in an indictment and then offer evidence of multiple, independently operating conspiracies at trial,” the petition states, because such a variance “carries the possibility that an individual who is not involved in the larger scheme will nevertheless be convicted thereof.”
There is some irony to Joe Giudice’s allegation that Mastropole forged Teresa Giudice’s name: Mastropole once alleged Joe Giudice forged his name on documents related to the discharge of a mortgage on an property they co-owned.
The dispute arose during the couple’s bankruptcy proceedings. Days before the couple declared bankruptcy in 2009, a judge ruled that Joe Giudice owed Mastropole $260,000 in connection with the mortgage discharge. When Mastropole sought to get the debt excluded from the Giudice bankruptcy, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Morris Stern agreed with Mastropole, writing that “the extraordinary web of lies and misrepresentations woven by Giudice to implement and cover his misconduct ... suggests his disregard for legal restraints which would bind others.”The Giudices are currently taping the fifth season of the popular Bravo franchise, which typically premieres in late spring, so it's unlikely any courtroom drama will make it to air
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Tags: vicki hyman 'real housewives' star joe giudice won't testify wants separate trial to 'exonerate' teresa
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