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'Real Housewives of New Jersey' couple pleads guilty to fraud

Anthony Johnson has the latest developments from Newark, NJ.
March 4, 2014 1:11:18 PM PST
A "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star and her husband face prison time after they pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for concealing income and lying during bankruptcy proceedings.

Teresa and Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice arrived at the federal courthouse in Newark on Tuesday without speaking to reporters. They each pleaded guilty to several counts, including bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and failing to pay taxes.

In contrast to their often raucous on-screen personas, the Giudices stood solemnly in front of U.S. Magistrate Esther Salas in Newark, speaking in barely audible tones as they admitted engaging in financial fraud.

Under federal guidelines, Joe Giudice faces a potential sentence of 37 to 46 months and Teresa Giudice could get 21 to 27 months. Sentencing was set for July 8.

She released a statement after the court appearance:

"Today, I took responsibility for a series of mistakes I made several years ago. I have said throughout that I respect the legal process and thus I intend to address the court directly at sentencing. I will describe the choices I made, continue to take responsibility for my decisions and express remorse to Judge Salas and the public. I am heartbroken that this is affecting my family, especially for my four young daughters who mean more to me than anything in the world. Beyond this, I do not intend to speak specifically about the case outside of court, at the recommendation of my attorney and out of deference of the government and our legal system."

They had been scheduled for trial on more than 40 counts and had unsuccessfully sought separate trials.

Joe Giudice is an Italian citizen and could be deported upon completion of his prison term, said his attorney, Miles Feinstein. Giudice came to the U.S. as an infant and wasn't aware that he wasn't an American citizen, Feinstein said.

"It would be a grave injustice, and inhumane, for him to be deported," Feinstein said.

The couple was charged last year with exaggerating their income while applying for loans before their show debuted in 2009, then hiding their fortunes in a bankruptcy filing after their first season aired. The couple filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and claimed they owed $11 million, including $2.2 million in mortgages, $13,000 to Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and nearly $12,000 to a fertility clinic, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, they admitted submitting fraudulent mortgage and loan applications and fabricating tax returns and W-2 forms.

Teresa Giudice has parlayed her fame into cookbooks and specialty food, drink and hair care product lines. On the show, she is known for her expensive tastes and combative relationship with her brother and sister-in-law. She has continued to work on the show while she has been under indictment and plans to continue until her sentencing, Klingeman said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)


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