'Real Housewives' stars released on $500,000 bond each

Two stars of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" reality show were released on $500,000 bond each Tuesday after appearing in a Newark court on federal fraud charges.

Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, 43, both of Towaco, N.J., were ordered to surrender their passports and limit their travels to New Jersey and New York, the Associated Press reported. A federal prosecutor told Joe Giudice at the hearing that he could be deported to Italy if convicted because he is not a U.S. citizen.


They did not enter pleas Tuesday. An arraignment hearing is set for Aug. 14.

The pair, who have been members of the television show cast since it premiered in 2009, could each face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the top charge in a 39-count indictment, which alleges conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements relating to mortgage loan applications.

Teresa Giudice, wearing a white pants suit, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, sat through Tuesday's initial hearing in the case with little expression, according to the Star-Ledger of Newark. Joe Giudice, wearing a crisp, dark suit with a tie and pink shirt, stared straight ahead.

"Everyone has an obligation to tell the truth when dealing with the courts, paying their taxes and applying for loans or mortgages," U.S. Atty. Paul J. Fishman said in a statement Monday. "That's reality."

Fishman told reporters after the hearing Tuesday that a plea deal has not been discussed, according to the Star-Ledger.

The Bravo network produces the reality TV "Real Housewives" franchise, of which the New Jersey series is the fourth incarnation. The program deals with the life and times of five women and their families in and around several communities in northern New Jersey. The Giudices' four daughters are also among the cast.

The indictment charges the couple with submitting fraudulent mortgage and loan documents to lenders from 2001 to 2008, before the series began.

"The Giudices falsely represented on loan applications and supporting documents that they were employed and/or receiving substantial salaries when, in fact, they were either not employed or not receiving such salaries," the indictment alleges.

When the couple filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, the indictment alleges, they "concealed businesses they owned, income they received from a rental property, and Teresa Giudice's true income from the television show 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey,' website sales, and personal and magazine appearances. The Giudices concealed their anticipated increase in income from the then-upcoming Season Two of the Bravo television show."

The indictment also alleges that Giuseppe Giudice failed to file tax returns for 2004 through 2008 even though he had income of almost $1 million.

In addition to prison time, according to the U.S. attorney's office, if convicted the pair could face substantial fines.



Twitter: @benjmueller