I personally have been digging into this story, since we’ve been hearing so many conflicting reports, and the Signature Apparel Bankruptcy fraud case involving Jacqueline, Chris Laurita, and his brother, Joseph is raging on – no matter how much Jacqueline wants to pretend it’s over and done with!
The Lauritas, the former owners of Signature Apparel, LLC, are accused of misappropriating company funds, to the tune of $8 million, for personal use – including vacations, cars, private jets, homes, and shopping – but then filed bankruptcy in 2009 to avoid paying back debts. At that time Signature Apparel was also boasting millions in revenue. Creditors protested the bankruptcy to the trustee, who after investigation, then filed a claim against the Lauritas, resulting in years of court back and forth for the Real Housewives Of New Jersey stars.
Rumor has it RHONJ season 7 has already started filming so they can capture Teresa Giudice as she heads to prison, and then focus on Joe Giudice as he tries to juggle a life without Teresa. And apparently, Jacqueline has signed on again so she can… talk about Teresa?! I mean, that’s been her storyline for like 4 seasons now, basically ever since Danielle Staub left when Jacqueline’s storyline was to talk about her.
Jacqueline, who together with her husband Chris Laurita, filed for bankruptcy via their company Signature Apparel Group in 2009 but creditors accused them of knowingly defrauding creditors while spending a whole buncha so-called company money on themselves. As a result they were sued for $7.8 million dollars. According to reports the couple has now settled the lawsuit to their bankruptcy creditors and if approved by a judge their bankruptcy is over!
Court documents stipulate that Jacqueline, Chris, and a few other siblings including Chris’ brother Joseph, “agree to pay the total gross sum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00)” to the plaintiff.
Perhaps it’s a good thing Jacqueline left Real Housewives of New Jersey when she did because she certainly wouldn’t want her current legal mess playing out in front of the cameras. Then again, maybe the Bravo powers already have their hands full with Teresa Giudice‘s indictment!
Jacqueline and husband Chris Laurita have been struggling for a while – they filed bankruptcy related to their former company Signature Apparel, but bankruptcy courts believe the Lauritas intentionally defrauded creditors and spent company proceeds for their own benefit – and they want them to repay $7.8 million dollars to creditors. The Lauritas are contesting this ruling and the case is due to go to trial.
According to the complaint at the time, Chris and Joseph were accused of "draining the company of all its funds and assets in order to support their families’ increasingly opulent lifestyle of private jets, limousines, extravagant parties, premium automobiles, designer clothing, ostentatious home furnishings and lavish vacations,” the complaint filed November 2, 2010 alleged. “Signature’s assets were misused to make outright and unjustified payments to Laurita family members, and to fund the operations of the Laurita brothers’ other companies and business ventures.”
RadarOnline is reporting that Chrisand his brother Joseph formed Signature Apparel Group (a company that once owned brands such as Rocawear and Eve’s Fetish) in 2005 and “drained the company” amassing a debt of $7,804,227 which was used to “support their luxurious lifestyle”!
According to documents the company banked more than $250 million between 2005 and 2009, but then surprisingly declared bankruptcy in September 2009, and just like their friend Teresa, someone started complaining that the bankruptcy petition might just be fraudulent. The suspicious bankruptcy filing prompted the debtor “to come forward with the complaint”, claiming company monies were “misused,” RadarOnline reveals.
Chris and Joseph “drained the Company of all its funds and assets in order to support their families’ increasingly opulent lifestyle of private jets, limousines, extravagant parties, premium automobiles, designer clothing, ostentatious home furnishings and lavish vacations,” the complaint filed November 2, 2010 alleges. “Signature’s assets were misused to make outright and unjustified payments to Laurita family members, and to fund the operations of the Laurita brothers’ other companies and business ventures.”
So what exactly did the Lauritas spend all that money on? Well, according to the documents, here’s the breakdown:
Nearly $2 million in credit card payments for the Laurity Family, including payments to more than 40 bank accounts
At least $331,637 for payments on no less than eleven leased cars, including a Bentley and a Maserati
At least $284,793 in airline travel expenses for the Laurita Family
At least $145,894 for private airplane rentals for the Laurita Family
At least $7,280 for travel agent expenses for the Laurita Family
At least $755,184 to defendant Christopher Laurita for undocumented or insufficiently documented reasons
At least $784,160 of disbursements directed by the Laurita Director Defendants (Chris and Joseph) to unknown recipients, without any documentation whatsoever
Even worse, the complaint alleges that Jacqueline had knowledge that shady business dealings were taking place and willing participated in wrongfully accepting money from the company, which is why she is named as part of the suit! The documents claim Jacqueline, along with Anthony Laurita, “knew of the Laurita Director Defendant’s wrongful conduct, and each substantially assisted the Laurita Director Defendants in breaching their fiduciary duties by, among other conduct, accepting funds they each knew belonged to Signature and for which they each knew they had performed no services and/or provided no value.”
“Funds that should have been used to grow Signature’s business and to pay Signature’s vendors and creditors, instead were diverted to the Laurita Family Defendants.” Oops – that’s not good.
Chris has denied “nearly all of the 155 allegations made in the claim” and believes it should be summarily dismissed, citing: “a failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action and a failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” The case is still pending so Reality Tea keep you posted with all the updates! Jacqueline has yet to comment, but if Bravo had wind of this matter it may have been another reason she skipped the RHONJ Season 3 Reunion!
In my limited knowledge of bankruptcy law, this is what I understand to have happened: it seems that instead of paying creditors to keep the business lucrative the Lauritas allegedly pocketed the proceeds and spent the money for personal use, then filed bankruptcy to avoid paying their bills. Now they are being accused of fraudulently filing bankruptcy. Any legal or financial experts out there please chime in!
In other news, when it flurries it becomes a Norwegian! Just a few days ago it was reported that Jacqueline was indeed a stripper before marrying Chris and Jacqueline is still adamantly denying it! You know the old expression “the lady doth protest too much…”
Jacqueline took to her personal website to clear up any lingering suspicions about how she met Chris and is sticking to the story that they met while she was a convention model. She also posted yet another Tweet denying she was a stripper and accusing someone (ahem…Teresa) of leaking false stories: “Im being 100% honest w/everyone w/my story of how Chris&I met in Chicago. I WAS NOT A STRIPPER/PROSTITUTE as said by shady people 4 money”
I, for one, can’t wait to hear what sister in law from hell, Caroline Manzo has to say about the latest!
[Photo credit: Sylvain Gaboury / PR Photos]
THOUGHTS ON THE LAURITA’S FINANCIAL SITUATION? DO YOU BELIEVE THEY ARE INNOCENT OF ANY WRONG DOING? ARE YOU SURPRISED BY WHAT THE ARTICLE IS ALLEGING? DOES THE RECENT INFORMATION CHANGE YOUR OPINION OF JACQUELINE?