Teresa and Joe Giudice, famous for their roles on the Real Housewives of New Jersey, have entered guilty pleas in their federal bank fraud case. Media outlets are reporting that Teresa faces 21 to 27 months and Joe is facing 37 to 46 months.
The plea agreement reached is not one with a sentence specified. In reality, the sentencing range is a suggested sentence under the guidelines; the court is free to sentence them up to the maximum of 50 years. Of course, it is highly unlikely that either Joe or Teresa would be sentenced to 50 years. My prediction is that Teresa gets probation and Joe gets two to three years.
But Joe has a bigger problem….
Joe Giudice is not a United States citizen. Under the law (INA §101(a)(43)(M)(i)), a fraud conviction causing more than $10,000 in damages (the damages alleged here exceed $1 million) is an aggravated felony. This makes Joe immediately removable after his sentence is served and he could be transferred directly from the Bureau of Prisons to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Leslie Mahley, a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney, says a conviction of an aggravated felony for a non-United States citizen is known as “an immigration death sentence” in the business.
Indeed, according to Mahley, even if Joe’s parents are United States citizens, and even though his wife and children are United States citizens and he has been here since he was a one-year-old, he is not entitled to any relief. Moreover, the deportation is permanent; he will not be allowed back into the country. Of course, he can reapply in 20 years after his kids are grown adults, but the conviction will still be on his record and possibly used against him in his application for reentry.
Surely it is possible for the government to exercise discretion and not seek Joe’s removal. A series of memoranda in the Obama Administration directing a focus on deportation to those with criminal convictions suggests that cutting Joe a break might not be in the cards. He will leave behind Teresa and four children.
Jenny M. Brandt is a criminal defense and appellate attorney in the Bay Area, California. She loves all things criminal law, celebrity gossip, and corgis, and has a blog at www.juicejusticeandcorgis.com. She graduated from UCLA (’05) and UCLA School of Law (’09) with a concentration in Critical Race Studies.