Thursday’s two-hour premiere of Jersey Shore Family Vacation took fans inside Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino‘s court case — and the tension that built up in the weeks leading up to his long-awaited sentencing.
On Oct. 5, 2018, Mike, 37, was sentenced to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release in his tax evasion case. At the time 30 months sober and planning his wedding to Lauren Pesce, the reality star did his best to hold his head high for the sake of his family as he awaited his fate.
“I know Mike is trying to be super positive for Lauren, but at the end of the day, I know that he’s nervous as hell,” said Jenni “JWoww” Farley. “This impending sentence is going to forever change his life.”
“I am scared of what could happen to Mike,” added Vinny Guadagnino. “We want to do as much as we can to keep him in good spirits, because this is going to be the hardest week of his life.”
Indeed, the cast did their best to lift their friend’s spirits, with the guys rallying around him while the ladies spent time with Lauren as she rushed to plan the wedding. (The college sweethearts got married a month after his sentencing, on Nov. 1, at The Legacy Castle in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.)
“People may think it’s weird that Mike and I are getting married now, but bulls— in life is going to come and go,” Lauren said. “When this leaves, there will be other s— that isn’t ideal to deal with either. It’s never going to be perfect. He’s healthy, he’s sober, we’re getting married. Nothing can take away that happiness.”
With all the focus on Mike and his legal situation, one person was relieved to be out of the spotlight: Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. Last season was dominated by drama between him and his on-off girlfriend Jen Harley, but on Thursday’s episode, he insisted all was well between the couple. (They share 15-month-old daughter Ariana Sky.)
“The last couple of months, me and Jen have turned things around,” he said. “When we were in New Jersey, me and Jen were fighting, somebody broke into my house — it was like a black cloud pouring nothing but bad luck all over me. But the storm has calmed and there’s a little bit of sunshine. I made the decision to slow down and try to get things right at home, between me and Jen and the baby.”
“I’m really happy with the way we’ve been lately,” he added. “It’s amazing. We haven’t really been fighting, we’ve been getting along, TMZ hasn’t been on my a–.”
Finally, the day of the sentencing arrived. While Mike and his legal team were seeking probation, prosecutors were seeking a prison sentence of 14 months. Mike, who admitted he barely slept the night before, couldn’t quite shake his nerves as he got ready for the day.
“Me facing this particular court day is very significant in my life,” he said. “I mean, it’s uncomfortable, but the things that I’ve gone through in the last couple of years, to be honest, all happened for a reason. I wouldn’t have the strength for today if I didn’t go through some of the things that I’ve gone through in the past couple of years.”
“I am so grateful that I’ve had these past 10 years to find friends that became family,” he added of his MTV costars. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of those 10 years, but at the end of day, what counts is not where you start, but where you finish.”
“Who this person is going into court is not the same person that got charged with those crimes,” Jenni said. “It’s insane how far Mike has come. He is sober, positive, clean, just taking on the world and I’m honored to be there to witness Mike finally shut the door on his old self. I just hope that the judge sees the man I see standing before her.”
Looking visibly anxious, Mike headed to the courthouse in Newark, New Jersey, with Lauren. The plan was for the rest of the cast to meet him there — and Ronnie, who was supposed to head over with Vinny, Pauly “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio and Angelina Pivarnick from Vinny’s house in Staten Island that morning, was suspiciously late. Vinny and Pauly immediately began speculating that it had something to do with Jen, who was in town.
“Ronnie is not at my house,” Vinny said. “Anytime that Ronnie’s baby mama is in the mix, anything could happen.”
When Ronnie finally arrived, he dropped a bombshell.
“I got beat up last night in the parking lot,” he claimed. “I got jumped. I was in Secaucus and I stopped at some diner. The guy was like, ‘Yo, let me buy you a shot, Ronnie.’ I said, ‘Bro, I’m driving, I’m good.’ He goes, ‘Oh, you’re the man because you’ve got two girls with you.’ Went to get in the car, gave him the peace [sign], and he [threw a punch].”
“Jen was like, ‘What the f—?’ ” he recalled. “Jen and her friend ran around the car, I’m wrestling the guy, someone ripped the chain off my neck.”
Vinny and Pauly remained skeptical of the story.
“Out of all nights for Ronnie to pull shenanigans, he got ‘jumped’ the night before Mike’s court date,” Vinny said. “If you look at Ronnie’s history, it just doesn’t seem right to me. It’s like, somehow this was caused by Jen. I don’t know how.”
Regardless, they headed out and gathered outside the courthouse, where they were joined by Jenni, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Deena Cortese. The cast decided that to avoid “a spectacle,” only two of them would go into the courtroom with Mike — Jenni and Vinny — so the rest of them headed over to a restaurant nearby to wait.
There, Ronnie filled the girls in on what had happened to him — and it was clear no one was buying it.
“Why would you go out to a bar the night before Mike’s sentencing, especially with diamond necklaces?” Nicole said. “Who are you, Ja Rule? Stay home!”
Outside of Ronnie’s earshot, Nicole pointed out the scratches on his face with raised eyebrows.
“Who gets scratched by a guy?” Pauly wondered. “That doesn’t happen. You get scratched by a girl.”
“I’m not trying to put any words in anybody’s mouth, but who knows?” Deena said. “Maybe Ron and Jen got into a fight. He says he got jumped. Who knows?”
“He says they hit him in the back of the head and he has a black eye,” Pauly added. “The story is fishy, but who really knows? He says that he didn’t see anybody. It just doesn’t add up.”
Mike, meanwhile, reported to the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York on Jan. 15. He is expected to be released in September.
Jersey Shore Family Vacation airs Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on MTV.