According to President Obama, reality television has helped shift the American dream from education, hard work, and security, to 10,000 square-foot houses, lavish spending, and lifestyles of the rich and famous. Hopefully it also showcases the dangers of living beyond your means, attempting to outsmart the government, and sacrificing relationships for fame. But in case the glamour blinds the message, lets break down Teresa Giudice’s recent legal battles with the federal government using her reality television personality.
Teresa Giudice is part of the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Since season one, Ms. Giudice identified herself as a housewife to an entrepreneur who ran several businesses throughout their home state. While she later used her celebrity status to co-author cookbooks and wines, such ventures were portrayed as icing to an already wealthy cake.
On July 29, 2013, Ms. Giudice and her husband were indicted by a federal grand jury with 39 counts of criminal activity including bank fraud, mail fraud, and bankruptcy fraud. According to the federal statute, to defraud an institution is to deprive it of the “intangible right of honest services.” According to the indictment, the couple submitted false information to at least five financial institutions for the purpose of obtaining loans totaling over $4 million. Is it not ironic that a reality television star is being accused of misrepresentation?
Teresa Giudice pleaded not guilty which may require her to show she is a honest person, particularly in her professional endeavors. Let’s assume her fellow New Jersey housewives were subpoenaed as character witnesses to prove her innocence. Using their words from the show, cast blogs, and magazine interviews, their testimony may sound like this:
• Caroline Manzo: “Teresa is a pitbull.” She’s a strong person in tough situations.
• Kathy Wakile: I love my cousin, but” I allowed Teresa to drag me into a dark place.”
• Melissa Gorga: Teresa tried to destroy my marriage by insinuating that I was a stripper and gold-digger.
• Jacqueline Laurita: Teresa is a “sociopath.” She never takes accountability and it’s always everyone else’s fault.
• Joe Gorga (brother): Teresa is “scum.”
• Kim DePaola (friend): “I don’t think she’s capable of [committing fraud].”
Looks like Ms. Giudice may want to avoid calling most of them to the stand. But as several highly publicized cases have illustrated, the jury may draw a separate opinion based on the evidence. So using public commentary from Teresa ‘s blogs, here is what the jury may conclude about her character:
• “Teresa does whatever she wants and does not care about any consequeces.”-cindy1963
• “No accountability for anything.” –Eblack10
• “[Teresa, you] play victim in every situation and have NEVER taken ownership.” –naustin55
• “She can never say she was wrong and just apologize.”-melly27
• “Teresa is a loving Italian mother and wife.” Juleslv
• “Teresa is a motivated woman…an example for the rest of the women [on the] show.” – ninasky_antonioli
• “Teresa is a strong woman” – plainviewsue
Looks like a hung jury. What do you think? In all seriousness, the Giudices are facing serious allegations that if convicted will likely require jail time in addition to heavy fines. The pre-reality television American dream sounds more appealing in comparison.