NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A star of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and her husband were released on $500,000 bond apiece 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 restrict their travels to New Jersey and New York. Joe Giudice, an Italian citizen, could be deported if convicted.
The Giudices, who rose to fame by showcasing their lavish lifestyle on the Bravo reality TV show, were indicted Monday on bank and bankruptcy fraud charges, among other counts. Joe Giudice is also charged with failing to file tax returns from 2004 to 2008.
The couple is accused of 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 did not enter pleas during a brief appearance in a courtroom packed with media and spectators. They will be arraigned Aug. 14. Their attorneys said both will plead not guilty.
“The investigation went on for a pretty long time and we are confident we have enough evidence to convict the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said after the proceeding.
The couple were charged in a 39-count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud. Both face hundreds of years in prison and millions of dollars in fines if convicted, but federal sentencing guidelines would greatly reduce the penalties, Fishman said.
Teresa Giudice’s attorney, Henry Klingeman, said he believes the government is prosecuting the couple because of their celebrity.
“They’re certainly being prosecuted because of their association with the show,” Klingeman told reporters outside court after the Giudices silently made their way through a pack of media to a waiting black SUV.
Authorities allege the couple submitted fraudulent mortgage and other loan applications from 2001 to 2008, a year before their show debuted. Prosecutors said the couple submitted fake W-2s, tax returns and bank account information to lenders.