'Real Housewives of NJ' stars free on $500K bond
NEWARK, N.J. - Two stars of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" were released on $500,000 bond each after making initial court appearances Tuesday on federal fraud charges. Teresa Giudice and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, were ordered to surrender their passports and to confine their travels to New Jersey and New York. Joe Giudice could be deported to Italy if convicted because he is not a U.S. citizen. They did not enter pleas. They were charged in a 39-count indictment Monday with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.The couple is accused of exaggerating their income while applying for loans before their TV show debuted in 2009, then hiding their fortunes in a bankruptcy filing after their first season aired. Authorities allege the couple submitted fraudulent mortgage and other loan applications from 2001 to 2008, a year before their show debuted on Bravo. Prosecutors said the couple submitted fake W-2s, tax returns and bank account information to lenders. Prosecutors allege the Giudices received about $4.6 million in mortgages, withdrawals from home equity lines of credit and construction loans. Joe Giudice, an entrepreneur, also failed to file tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008, when he is alleged to have earned nearly $1 million, prosecutors said. During that time his income allegedly fluctuated wildly; the indictment states he made $323,481 in 2005 and $26,194 in 2006.In a statement Monday, Teresa said she supports her husband and wants to resolve the charges as soon as possible. "I am committed to my family and intend to maintain our lives in the best way possible, which includes continuing my career," she said. A Bravo spokesman had no comment. "Everyone has an obligation to tell the truth when dealing with the courts, paying their taxes and applying for loans or mortgages," said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. "That's reality." In their 2009 bankruptcy filing, the couple said they were $11 million in debt. They stated their monthly take-home pay was $16,583, but $10,000 was from "monthly assistance from family members" and Bravo income. It also said they owed $2.2 million in mortgages, $13,000 to Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and nearly $12,000 to a fertility clinic. The most serious charges the couple face, bank fraud and loan application fraud, carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.