NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” were back in court Wednesday.
Attorneys for Teresa and Guiseppe “Joe” Giudice entered a plea of not guilty to a number of federal fraud charges before a judge, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“They were relieved that they could stand up in court through their attorneys and say ‘not guilty,'” said Miles Feinstein, Joe Giudice’s attorney.
Neither Teresa nor Joe Giudice spoke in court, only whispering to each other. At one point, Teresa wiped sweat from her husband’s brow. The couple also declined to speak to reporters outside the courthouse.
Feinstein said there is no truth to a rumor that Joe might plea bargain by testifying against Teresa.
“At least one magazine had an article that Joe, my client, was going to testify against Teresa,” Feinstein said. “That’s absolutely not true.”
After the court hearing Wednesday, instead of laying low, Teresa Giudice went to mingle with her fans at a book signing. She was all smiles as she signed her new cookbook for more than 100 people at a small boutique in Wayne, N.J., CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“We got kisses on the cheek, so I’m never going to wash my face again,” one man said.
The man and a woman who was with him wore shirts reading “Free Tre” with a picture of Teresa Giudice’s face. They were among many people at the book signing who rushed to her defense.
“I think that this is affecting her daughters more than anyone else, so I feel for them,” a woman said.
And while Teresa Giudice’s attorney instructed her not to talk about the case, she made a message for her fans as she leaned out the front door of the boutique to address the crowd.
“Thank you!” she said.
Her attorney said going on with her everyday life is a good idea.
“Teresa is an important figure, and it’s important for her fans to know that she’s confident but concerned,” her attorney, Henry Klingeman, said. “She’s trying to do the things that any good mother and wife would do under the circumstances.”
The Giudices were charged last month in a 39-count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.
LINK: Read The Full Indictment
The couple is accused of exaggerating their income while applying for loans before their TV show debuted in 2009 and 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 also allege the Giudices received about $4.6 million in mortgages, withdrawals from home equity lines of credit and construction loans.
“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 upon announcing the indictment. “That’s reality.”
Joe Giudice also failed to file tax returns from 2004 to 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 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. Joe Giudice could be deported to Italy if convicted because he’s not a U.S. citizen. The trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 8.
Klingeman said the government “frequently targets high-profile people to draw attention to their prosecutive efforts.”
“We hope that she’s vindicated and spends no time in jail, but it’s a federal case and there’s always a risk of jail,” Klingeman added.
“They’re presumed innocent, they maintain their innocence,” Feinstein, said.
The two have been free on $500,000 bond since their court appearance last month. They both had to surrender their passports and can’t travel outside of New Jersey and New York.
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