I’m sure many of you have read or heard about Teresa and Joe Giudice, co-stars of the reality show Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Their Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing in New Jersey has hit the media and also the Government and taken front stage.

They are being charged among other items – Bankruptcy Fraud.

You need to keep in mind that when you file for bankruptcy, you leave yourself vulnerable to having the Bankruptcy Court carefully review the information you provided. It is only fair- your creditors will not be paid and it would not be fair for you to misrepresent what you own, what you have owned, or your income.

I always emphasize to my clients that honesty is the only policy.   This is yet another reason why you would not want to be represented by a stand in attorney and not your original attorney.   I follow my cases from start to finish and know exactly what is on those petitions and how we have gone over them.   Just think if a stand in attorney didn’t understand the original petition contents…..

Prison is a very serious result of committing bankruptcy fraud.   Bank Fraud and loan application frauds each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The Giudice’s are, of course, innocent until proven guilty.   However, I would not want my clients in a case with the government represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan W. Romankow and Rachel Honig of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Driminal Division in Newark or any federal authorities.

Recently there have been two additional counts (to the already 39 counts) of fraud:   $61,250 mortgage loan that Teresa obtained in July 2005.   The Giudice’s prepared a loan application which falsely stated that she was working outside of the home – and she was not.   Teresa indicated that she had a monthly salary of $15,000.   Of course, the reason she stated this was to obtain the loan.

You can’t lie on documents in general and especially documents that involve your income, loan documents and most definitely bankruptcy petitions.

When you sign your name to a bankruptcy petition, you are confirming that everything contained in that petition is accurate and correct.

Bankruptcy is meant to help honest individuals gain a fresh start – not to surreptitiously scheme to hide assets in order to defraud your creditors.

It is important that those who abuse the system get punished in order to ensure that a good process like bankruptcy is maintained and in line with its goals.

We will wait and see how the Giudice’s will be punished, if they are found guilty.    I have my opinion as to whether they are guilty and I am sure you do as well.