‘Real Housewives’ stars charged with mortgage fraud

(CNN) — Teresa Giudice and Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, stars of the popular reality TV show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” stepped into another kind of drama Tuesday as they appeared in court to answer federal fraud charges.

The couple — Joe Giudice in a dark suit and his wife in a crème-colored pantsuit — waded through a swarm of photographers to arrive early to their first court appearance to answer claims that they conspired to defraud lenders, and illegally obtain mortgages.

While Teresa Giudice, 41, remained tight-lipped during their arrival, her husband reportedly tussled with a photographer outside the courthouse, while his mother cursed at the throngs of paparazzi. E! Online reported that Joe Giudice, 43, swatted a photographer’s camera at one point and was admonished by his attorney not to do that.

Joe Giudice’s attorney, Miles Feinstein, told HLN Tuesday that the reality TV show could possibly have an impact on court proceedings, but that “nobody can predict.”

“We don’t know who the jurors will be, we won’t know the effect of the show,” Feinstein said. “So we’re going to do our best to keep them out of jail because they maintain their innocence and they’re presumed to be innocent.”

During the hearing, the Giudices were released on $500,000 bond each, but their freedom comes with several restrictions: They must surrender their passports, and they’re not allowed to leave New York or New Jersey until their next hearing, scheduled for August 14.

The prosecuting attorney said that authorities may pursue immigration charges against Joe Giudice, an Italian citizen. He could face deportation.

The court appearance came one day after the Giudices were charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements on loan applications. According to Teresa Guidice’s lawyer, she plans to plead not guilty.

The 39-count indictment also charges Joe Giudice with failure to file tax returns for tax years 2004 through 2008, during which time he allegedly earned nearly $1 million. The couple could reportedly face at least 30 years in prison.

On Monday, Teresa Giudice issued a statement saying, “Today is a most difficult day for our family. I support Joe and, as a wonderful husband and father, I know he wants only the best for our lovely daughters and me. I am committed to my family and intend to maintain our lives in the best way possible, which includes continuing my career. As a result, I am hopeful that we will resolve this matter with the Government as quickly as possible.”

Bravo, the network that airs “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” told HLN it has no comment on the charges.

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