Oct 7, 2014 7:42 AM

'Housewives' stars shocked to be facing prison

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) Not all was revealed in Bravo's joint interview with Teresa and Joe Giudice, the married stars of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" who now are facing jail time on conspiracy and bankruptcy charges.

In fact, as the couple articulated (if that wasn't too grand a term) their dual plight, their responses were largely a thicket of stammers, sentence fragments, whatevers and y'knows.

"I feel like I'm numb. Like surreal. All's I keep thinking about is my daughters," said the glum Teresa, who was seated beside Joe in matching wingchairs, holding his hand, as they were questioned by Bravo host Andy Cohen in the interview special that aired Monday night after being taped last Friday.

"I actually felt like I got hit in the back of the neck by a bat," said Joe, describing his reaction to the sentencing the day before. He elaborated: "I don't know. It is what it is."

Appearing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, Teresa had been sentenced to 15 months while her husband was handed 41 months. In a nod to the couple's four young daughters, the judge staggered the sentences so Teresa will serve her sentence first. She is scheduled to report to prison Jan. 5.

The couple had pleaded guilty in March, admitting they hid assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitted phony loan applications to get some $5 million in mortgages and construction loans. Joe also pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes totaling more than $200,000.

"I expected me (to get jail time). I wasn't expecting her," said Joe. "She had no part in my businesses or whatever. She really didn't."

Asked how such things went so awry, the couple seemed to be trying to explain.

"Whatever Joe told me to sign, I would sign," said Teresa, declaring she had never made a habit of reading or understanding legal documents.

Cohen asked Joe if HE knew the questionable nature of the contracts he was handing his wife.

"Just whatever the bank gave me for her to sign," he replied.

"But you were taking out false loans," Cohen pointed out.

"All right, whatever," Joe said. "I was taking out false loans."

No real excuse came to light for the illegal practices, and both Giudices denied that any appetite for living large had put them in financial distress.

On the contrary, they insisted they are thrifty with their money.

When Cohen, at Joe's prompting, guessed that his suit cost $600, Joe corrected the record: "Two suits, two shirts, two ties for $250 and they tailor it," he said proudly.

But losing any smugness, he said he was more worried about his wife's imprisonment than his own.

"If you stick me with a knife I wouldn't even feel it, y'know?"

Teresa predicted she would manage in prison without the fancy dresses and makeup that are part of her "Housewives" persona ("I'll just slick my hair back and go about my day"), and vowed to keep her famous temper in check ("No one can push my buttons anymore").

Her greatest regret as she faces imprisonment is separation from her daughters, she said, while her greatest concern is for their welfare while being separated from their mom.

Asked how he feels as he faces Teresa's imminent incarceration and his role as single parent, Joe replied, "It's gonna be a lot of work. But they're my daughters and I gotta do what I gotta do."

Then, with a rueful laugh, he added, "I guess I'm gonna be the housewife."


EDITOR'S NOTE Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore


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