Dark secrets of the cast of Jersey Shore

In the years following its 2009 debut, Jersey Shore has easily become a reality TV institution. Beginning as a show about eight people living together in a house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, the show spawned several spin-offs, took place in several locations, and made stars of the main cast practically overnight, including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and Jenni “JWoww” Farley. But as we’ve gotten to know them on MTV and social media, a few scandals have popped up here and there… including some seriously dark secrets.

Between actual prison sentences, abuse allegations, and behind-the-scenes facts that fans never would have guessed, there’s a lot going on beneath the fun and the drama that we’ve been witnessing on Jersey Shore all these years. The cast of the show hit fame pretty quickly, and while they definitely know how to have a good time and keep their friendships going strong, they’ve also been caught in some pretty compromising situations as the world was watching.

Here are the dark secrets of the cast of Jersey Shore that have come out so far.

Pauly D had a messy custody battle

Back in 2013, Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio had a one night stand with a woman named Amanda Markert that resulted in the birth of his daughter, Amabella. Not long after she was born, a source close to the DJ told E! that while he “didn’t have a previous relationship” with Markert, he was “very excited” to become a father. But it wouldn’t be long until a messy custody battle would follow.

Shortly after the news broke that DelVecchio was a father, TMZ reported that he and Markert were fighting over which state should handle their custody case: Nevada, where DelVecchio was based, or New Jersey, where Markert still lived. The site also later reported that Markert claimed to have text messages that indicated DelVecchio had originally offered to send her money to have an abortion when he first found out she was pregnant and was attempting to sell them to different outlets. (At the time, the Daily Mail reached out to a rep for DelVecchio about the allegations, but they did not respond.)

DelVecchio filed for full custody of his daughter in late 2013, and according to Radar Online, he and Markert “worked out a temporary custody agreement” by the following April. 

The Situation went to prison for tax evasion

In 2014, Mike Sorrentino and his brother, Marc Sorrentino, were indicted for tax fraud after they didn’t pay taxes on $8.9 million in income. As Time reported, the siblings were accused of creating businesses to funnel money through and faced “charges of failing to file tax returns and conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

After a lengthy legal battle, in 2018, Mike and Marc were finally sentenced to prison after they both pled guilty. For The Situation, that meant that he would spend eight months in prison, along with a fine of $123,913 in restitution and a criminal fine of $10,000, according to People. On Sept. 12, 2019, he was released from the federal prison where he had been held in Otisville, New York.

“We are elated to finally close this chapter of our life. Thank you to our family, friends and fans for the continuous love and support during this time, it brought us so much peace and comfort,” Sorrentino said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

The Situation fell behind on his community service

Over a year after his release from prison, TMZ reported that Mike Sorrentino was behind on the community service he was required to fulfill when his time behind bars came to an end. Despite the fact that he’d finished his sentence, he still had responsibilities to take care of before his debt to society was paid, and it sounds like he’s not off to a great start. Documents obtained by the site in December 2020 revealed that Sorrentino apparently only completed 18 out of his 500 required community service hours, most recently backing out of a commitment to do more in August because of COVID-19.

According to the documents, his probation officer reportedly told Sorrentino “at nearly every interaction to find a venue for community service, including service that could be performed from home.” She apparently didn’t get anywhere with those requests, so she reportedly filled the judge in, who then gave Sorrentino a written warning. Sounds like he’d better get that community service done ASAP!

Ronnie Ortiz-Magro's domestic violence arrest

In October 2019, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro was arrested following an altercation with then-girlfriend Jen Harley. As TMZ reported at the time, Ortiz-Magro was arrested after he allegedly chased Harley with a knife during a fight with their daughter caught in the crossfire of their argument. Ortiz-Magro allegedly slapped and punched Harley, chasing her with their daughter, Ariana (who was 18 months old at the time), in his arms. When police arrived, he and Ariana were reportedly found locked inside their house, and they were forced to tase him to get him to cooperate. Ortiz-Magro denied the allegations, and in May 2020, TMZ reported the reality star reached a plea deal.

The October 2019 incident came just months after Harley was arrested after allegedly attacking Ortiz-Magro in a club. At the time, she accused him of destroying their belongings, including a TV and a security camera. (The charges were ultimately dropped.) Though the couple was on-again, off-again for awhile, it seems like they’ve officially called it quits for good. A source told TMZ they do continue to co-parent their daughter.

JWoww accused Roger Mathews of abuse

In an essay Jenni “JWoww” Farley wrote (and then deleted) on her blog in January 2019, Farley accused ex-husband Roger Mathews of abusing her, claiming that he had hurt her both physically and emotionally during their marriage. “You are an abuser to the core, Roger Mathews…. You have spit at me,” she wrote in the open letter (via Us Weekly). “You have pushed me. You have shoved me. You have aggressively thrown me to the ground. You have prevented me from closing doors to escape having you coming at me. You have belittled and disparaged me. You have threatened me.” 

According to Us Weekly, Farley also shared since-deleted videos of her arguments with Mathews, admitting that she wanted more for their children. “They will not grow up watching their mother being a victim of domestic violence. I will be a victim no longer,” Farley wrote. “Roger, know this here and for always – my kindness should never again mistaken for weakness. Remember that. I will not be threatened. I will not be controlled. I will not be broken.” 

On a January 2020 episode of the Champ and the Tramp podcast, Mathews addressed Farley’s allegations. “I’ve never hit Jenny in my life,” he said. Mathews added that he did push her “three or four times,” noting that it was “all wrong” and believes they should’ve sought help from a marriage counselor earlier. Mathews also maintained that “it wasn’t a violent household.”

JWoww's boyfriend crossed a line with her roommate

After her split from Roger Mathews, Jenni Farley quickly found herself in a relationship with Zack Carpinello, a wrestler who she knew as the younger brother of one of her childhood friends. They wasted no time taking things public, and Carpinello even appeared on the next season of her show. However, the relationship seemingly came crashing down when footage of Carpinello getting handsy with Jersey Shore: Family Vacation star Angelina Pivarnick hit MTV airwaves.

Carpinello later issued an apology to Farley on Instagram, writing in the since-deleted post (via Us Weekly), “I made mistakes that I cannot take back, which I take full responsibility for. Jenni does not deserve any damage from anybody else. This is on me. I sincerely apologize to Jenni. I apologize to Angelina as well.”

It seems that the apology worked, because Carpinello and Farley did end up getting back together. At the time of this writing, they appear to still be going strong. 

Snooki didn't like how she was portrayed on the show

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi seemed to be fully herself on Jersey Shore, but by the end of her time on the show, she felt like she wasn’t accurately being portrayed, as she explained on her podcast, It’s Happening With Snooki & Joey in 2019. She announced that she was leaving the show for good — not just to spend more time with her kids, but also because she felt she was misrepresented.

“I don’t like the person that I’m being portrayed as,” Polizzi said on the pod. “This is getting a little too much. And for me, at 32 years old and with three kids— and if I’m doing a reality show I just want it to be fun and light-hearted, and just lately it’s not like that. And the show is getting so dramatic.” 

The following May, Polizzi chatted with People about her decision to leave. “It’s just not for me anymore,” she explained. “Drama has never been my thing. Especially now, I don’t want to leave my kids and not see them for days on end to do that.” In November 2020, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation returned without Polizzi, but she seems to be cheering her castmates on from the sidelines.

Nicole Polizzi's nickname wasn't actually Snooki

Okay, this one isn’t dark, but it is pretty juicy. Though there was never a time that Nicole Polizzi wasn’t known as Snooki on Jersey Shore, that wasn’t actually her nickname before she was on the show. As she explained while taking part in an oral history of the show for Vulture, it was something she decided on the spot while she was still auditioning.

“Before the show, no one really called me ‘Snooki,'” she explained. “They were looking for nicknames on the application. One of my girlfriends used to call me that, just to be funny, so I wrote that down. Then I was like, ‘Oh, sh*t.’ Now that it’s stuck, I wish I’d put something else.”

And wow, did it ever stick. Can you imagine a world where Snooki isn’t “Snooki”? Jersey Shore could have been totally different if not for Polizzi choosing that nickname; a true Sliding Shores moment. It might be one of the best things she’s done for her career so far — and we never would have realized it wasn’t actually her real nickname if she hadn’t made this confession.

Vinny Guadagnino's rude tweet to Angelina Pivarnick

Vinny Guadagnino ended up in a controversy of his own in September 2020 with Jersey Shore costar and frenemy Angelina Pivarnick. It all started after Pivarnick found out that Guadagnino would be starring on another season of Double Shot at Love with Pauly D. “Ohh wow @VINNYGUADAGNINO your finally trying to be serious with someone !! Finally. #doubleshotatlove,” she tweeted.

Apparently, Guadagnino was unamused with Pivarnick’s joke, because he responded with a tweet of his own that wasn’t well received by fans, especially since Pivarnick simply seemed to be teasing him. “Yea not u b*tch,” he replied.

It wasn’t clear if Guadagnino was kidding or not, but either way, as The Blast noted, fans were unimpressed with the way he spoke to Pivarnick. Could this lead to an even bigger feud for these two in a future season? We’ll just have to wait and see, because it seems like the Jersey Shore franchise is still far from over.

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