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Real Housewives of New Jersey stars appear on federal fraud charges

By David Jones

NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Two stars of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" were released on $500,000 bond each on Tuesday after appearing in federal court on fraud and tax evasion charges that could get one of them kicked out of the United States.

Teresa Giudice, 41, and her husband Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice, 43, held hands during their appearance on a 39-count indictment at the hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor.

The judge asked if they understood the charges against them and whether they realized that, if convicted, Guiseppe faces potential deportation back to Italy because he is not a U.S. citizen.

"Yes," answered Teresa Giudice, wearing a white pant suit, her typically puffy black hairdo tamed into a ponytail.

"Yes," said her husband, his tattoos covered by a dark suit with a pink shirt and peach and blue striped tie.

Prosecutors outlined a bevy of charges against the couple who star in the fifth season of the New Jersey version of the "Real Housewives" reality TV series on Bravo Media.

They are accused of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, making false statements on loan applications and hiding income in a bankruptcy case.

From September 2001 until 2008, the Giudices submitted fraudulent loan applications to obtain mortgages and other loans, according to the indictment. After filing for bankruptcy protection in 2009, prosecutors charge the couple concealed businesses they owned, income from their rental property, as well as income that Teresa received from the reality show.

Giuseppe also was charged with failing to file tax returns for 2004-2008, when he received more than $996,000 in income.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, speaking outside the courthouse, called the charges against the Giudices serious.

"The victims first are the United States, because the United States first of all was denied the income taxes that the Giudices should have paid, the banks that gave out the loans that they shouldn't have given out, and of course the bankruptcy court," Fishman said.

The Guidices' lawyers said their clients were innocent of the charges.

"There is another side here that you haven't heard, but you'll hear in the courtroom, and we're going to prepare accordingly," said attorney Miles Feinstein, who represents Giuseppe.

Their arraignment was scheduled for August 14 before U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andre Grenon)

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