What’s the toughest part about being a Real Housewife of New Jersey?
“Fame,” Teresa Giudice told PEOPLE last year. “Being scrutinized. It’s hard being judged when people don’t really know you.”
Now the reality show‘s star and husband Joe are paying what their lawyers say is a huge price for that notoriety.
The couple were released Tuesday on $500,000 bond each after being charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.
They face up to 30 years in prison on the most serious charge and a $1 million fine, and Joe – an Italian citizen – could be deported after his conviction.
“She’s certainly being targeted because of her celebrity,” says her attorney Henry Klingeman. “The government frequently targets high-profile people to draw attention to their prosecutorial efforts. It s especially happening here.”
Joe’s attorney, Miles Feinstein, agrees. “I feel that because of his celebrity status he’s being treated differently than others are for the same offense.”
The couple, who have four daughters, did not enter pleas at their appearance in federal court in Newark, N.J., but plan to fight for their innocence.
For now, their future on the show remains in question (Bravo hasn’t commented). RHONJ is airing episodes of season five and doesn’t go into production for the next season until late September or early October.
“I hope she continues,” Teresa’s lawyer says. “It s a source of passion for her. And a source of support for her kids. As long as she can continue to attract the attention of her fans, I would encourage to continue to do so.”
• Reporting by KC BAKER, MARY GREEN and JANINE RAYFORD