'Real Housewives' stars face real fraud charges

Tuesday , July 30, 2013 - 9:39 AM

Real Housewives of NJ-Fraud Charges

FILE - This Sept. 13, 2009 file photo originally released by Oral-B Pulsonic shows "Real Housewives...

Katie Zezima

NEWARK, N.J. -- Two stars of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" have been freed on $500,000 bond each amid fraud charges.

Teresa Giudice and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, appeared in federal court Tuesday morning.

The Giudices are 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.

They both had to surrender their passports and can't travel outside of New Jersey and New York. The husband could be deported to Italy if convicted because he's not a U.S. citizen.

Authorities say the couple submitted fraudulent mortgage and loan applications from 2001 to 2008, including fake tax returns and W-2s. Prosecutors allege Joe Giudice failed to file tax returns for the years 2004 through 2008.

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.

Teresa Giudice's attorney, Henry Klingeman, said she would plead not guilty. Joe Giudice's attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

In a statement, 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.

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