Even if you’re not a fan of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, you’ve probably heard that cast member Teresa Giudice was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on fraud charges. If you’ve been watching the show, you’ve seen the strain that the court battle has put on Teresa, her husband Joe (sentenced to 41 months in prison), and their four young daughters. It’s heartbreaking.
As a mom, I can’t help but feel her pain. It must be devastating to know that you’ll be separated from your children for over a year. And for a suburban housewife to have to do time in prison? I watch “Orange is the New Black” — she must be terrified.
As a law-abiding citizen though, I’m also glad that justice was served. Because most of us don’t go around committing mortgage fraud and bank fraud, signing false documents which will allow us to live a lavish lifestyle, well beyond our means. Honest, morally-upstanding people don’t do things like that. Most of us, would never even think of doing anything like that.
The Giudices did though. And now they’ve got to pay the piper.
See, here’s the funny thing about the law: When you break it, there are consequences, and your reality-TV status can’t save you. In fairness to the couple, they did plead guilty back in March, sparing their family and the courts the additional stress and strain. They didn’t do it though because they felt compelled to do the right thing and come clean. No, understandably, they wanted to lower their sentences, and maybe even avoid prison completely. Unfortunately, while the judge was a lot more lenient than she could have been, the Giudices will both do time.
Last night, I watched their first sit-down interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, curious to hear what they would have to say for themselves. I expected humble contrition. Instead, I feel like they were blaming their lawyer, making excuses, and not taking responsibility for their own actions. Teresa said that, since the sentencing, she now realizes that she has to read and understand documents before she signs them. Uh, that’s all? She doesn’t even say, “Hey, I made a mistake.” Instead of a mea culpa, it’s like an, “Oopsie, mea justa stupida.”
I found myself getting more and more frustrated with Teresa’s inability to accept blame and then, just as I was ready to throw my pumpkin sandwich cookie at the TV, she started talking about how their oldest daughter, Gia, took the news. According to Teresa, the 13-year-old told her that it would be okay, and that she would help Joe take care of the younger girls while Mom was in prison. The teenager, wise beyond her years, is trying to be strong for her family. Alright, so maybe the Giudices aren’t model citizens, but they must be doing something right to raise a daughter with that much strength.
Honestly, it does seem like, despite their faults, the Giudices are loving, devoted parents, especially Teresa. Throughout the interview, she talks about how her biggest concern is for her girls. She said, “I just think about my daughters. That’s all I think about. I just want to make sure my daughters are okay.”
Well, maybe this will actually be the best thing for them.
I know, I know, how can I say that? Because I think that there are actually some lessons that the young Giudice girls can learn from this terrible situation, not least of which is that if you do bad things, you will be punished. There will always be consequences for your actions. So it’s better to act right, be honest, and do good.
And another thing: Being oblivious won’t keep you out of jail, so don’t play dumb! Read the paperwork! Understand the paperwork! Maybe this “I had no idea” thing is just an act, but regardless, Teresa needs to teach her daughters how important it is to know your own finances, to know your own business. They should learn that it’s important to take ownership of your life, be responsible for yourself, and not trust that your man has got it covered. Teresa was either really clueless or she was playing along with her husband’s schemes. Either way, he took her down with him.
Obviously, people make mistakes, and the Giudices will do time for what they’ve done. They’re paying the price. This is an opportunity though for Teresa to teach her girls about resilience, strength of character, and how to face the music with grace. When talking about the sentence the judge handed down, Teresa said, “A lot of the things she said…really hit home. From everything she said, I’m going to take it and become a better person.” Who knows? This “better” Teresa might actually be someone that her daughters can look up to.