Judge rules Teresa Giudice’s legal malpractice suit against attorney can move forward.
A Morris County, NJ Superior Court judge has ruled that a
legal malpractice suit filed by Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice against her bankruptcy attorney can proceed. Giudice alleges mistakes by attorney James Kridel resulted in her spending one year in prison.
“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star and her husband Joe, who live in Montville Township, pleaded guilty in 2014 to bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Federal prosecutors had alleged in a 41-count indictment that the couple hid assets and income in their 2009 bankruptcy filing, as well as lied and faked documents on mortgage applications between 2004 and 2008.
Giudice served nearly a year in a prison and six weeks under house arrest, and her husband is currently serving a 41-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institute at Fort Dix.
But in her case against Kridel, Giudice, described in her own lawsuit as “financially unsophisticated,” claims it was Kridel’s fault that “rudimentary information” about her financial standing was left out of the initial bankruptcy filing, and that in Kridel’s covering up his mistakes, she signed legal papers that “exposed her to criminal liability.”
Giudice’s lawyer Carlos Cuevas alleges that among Kridel’s major errors were not relaying to the couple in March 2011 that federal prosecutors had begun investigating them for bankruptcy and mortgage fraud, and failing to advise them to immediately retain a criminal attorney.
Cuevas and his co-counsel Anthony Rainone say that Giudice lacked criminal intent in the bankruptcy fraud case, and if Kridel had not made “very basic errors,” she would not have found herself in the federal crosshairs.
In court papers, Kridel said that the mortgage conspiracy predated the bankruptcy filing, that he depended on the Giudices to provide him with accurate information, and that Giudice took responsibility for what she did when she agreed to the plea deal.
But Giudice’s lawyers say federal prosecutors look at mortgage fraud “differently” than bankruptcy fraud. “We’re contesting that she even would have been indicted if it were solely for alleged mortgage fraud,” Cuevas says.
The case now proceeds to the discovery phase, with a trial likely 18 months away. Giudice’s suit does not specify damages.
Originally posted by Vicki Hyman on NJ.com.
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