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Jan 5, 2015 1:07 PM

'Real Housewives' star makes prison her new home

The Associated Press

One of New Jersey's "Real Housewives" has gone to the big house.

Teresa Giudice surrendered at the Federal Correction Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, at about 3 a.m. Monday to begin serving a 15-month sentence for bankruptcy fraud, her attorney said.

Giudice's last meal before turning herself in was at a 24-hour diner near the facility, according to attorney James Leonard, who drove the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star from her home in northern New Jersey to the prison, about 90 minutes north of New York City.

"The last thing she said was, basically, 'Tell everybody I'll be fine,'" Leonard said. "She was very positive, very upbeat, in great spirits."

Giudice and her husband, Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, pleaded guilty last year to hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitting phony loan applications to get some $5 million in mortgages and construction loans. Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes totaling more than $200,000.

Under terms of their plea agreements, Joe Giudice will start serving his 41-month sentence when Teresa Giudice is released, an arrangement aimed at ensuring the couple's four daughters will have one parent at home at all times.

"Teresa's only concern is and has been that of her four children," Leonard said in an email earlier Monday. "I know that she was anxious to get in and get this entire nightmare behind her so that she can return home to her family."

Leonard said that under federal sentencing rules, Teresa Giudice could be eligible to be released by next December, and also could spend the last month or so of her sentence at a halfway house or under some form of home monitoring.

The Giudices also are required to pay $414,000 in restitution under their plea agreement; Teresa Giudice sent the government a check for $200,000 in early October, according to court records.

At the Giudices' sentencing in October, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas criticized the couple for not disclosing all their assets as required under their plea agreement, calling it "the same pattern of obstruction, concealment and manipulation as they showed in the bankruptcy case."

Still, Salas sentenced Teresa Giudice to a sentence below the range sought by the U.S. attorney's office and staggered her sentence with her husband's so they wouldn't be in prison at the same time and unable to care for their four daughters.

Joe Giudice is not an American citizen, and he faces an immigration hearing when he completes his sentence and is expected to be deported to Italy. His attorney has said Giudice came to the U.S. as an infant and didn't know he wasn't an American citizen until he was an adult.

Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty in state court in October to unlawful use of identification in a case involving a bogus driver's license. His 18-month sentence will run concurrent with his federal sentence.

Last month, Teresa Giudice sued former attorney James Kridel, whose firm handled the couple's bankruptcy case, alleging legal malpractice and negligence.

Reached by phone last week, Kridel called the lawsuit "ridiculous" and denied the claims.

"We did what we were supposed to do," he said. "We can only rely on the facts that were provided to us. I don't wish her any ill will, but I would have preferred a 'thank you' rather than a lawsuit."


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