Teresa Giudice's Lawyer Says N.J. Judge Who Lost Son to Gun Violence Is 'Warm and Compassionate'

"If Teresa were to ever see her she would probably hug her and cry with her and pray with her to try and comfort her," attorney James Leonard Jr. says

Esther Salas
Esther Salas. Photo: Rutgers University

Teresa Giudice's attorney described Judge Esther Salas as being "warm and compassionate" during an encounter several years after she sentenced the Real Housewives of New Jersey star and her husband, Joe, to prison following their 2014 fraud convictions.

“I remember very vividly an interaction that I had with Judge Salas about a week or two after Teresa’s mother had died back in 2017," James Leonard Jr., tells PEOPLE in an email. "We were on a conference call addressing a minor court-related issue and before the call ended Judge Salas asked me to pass along her sympathies to Teresa regarding her mother’s passing.

"She was very warm and compassionate and I remember thinking she seemed genuinely sad for Teresa. I know that Teresa greatly appreciated her kind words during that difficult time," Leonard continued. "I think if Teresa were to ever see her she would probably hug her and cry with her and pray with her to try and comfort her. It’s heart wrenching and so terribly sad what happened to her family."

Teresa Giudice
Teresa Giudice. Jeffrey Neira/Walt Disney Television/Getty

On Sunday, Salas' 20-year-old son Daniel Anderl was killed, and her husband, defense attorney Mark Anderl, was shot multiple times at their North Brunswick, N.J., home. Salas was not injured in the shooting.

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The suspect, identified as self-described "anti-feminist" attorney Roy Den Hollander, who appeared to have a vendetta against Salas stemming from a 2015 over which she presided, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Salas' son was a junior at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., according to NorthJersey.com. At this time, Salas' husband's condition is not known.

Salas sentenced both Teresa, 48, and her ex-husband Joe Giudice, 50, to prison for crimes including bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion in October 2014.

Daniel Anderl
Daniel Anderl. Daniel Anderl/Twitter

On Monday, Leonard shared with PEOPLE that Teresa is "shaken" over the attack on Salas's family and that "she would be praying very heavily for Judge Salas and her family."

Teresa and Joe – who share daughters Gia, 19, Gabriella, 16, Milania, 14, and Audriana, 10 — were allowed to serve their time separately. First, Teresa served a little over 11 months in prison and was released on Dec. 23, 2015. Joe was sentenced to 41 months in prison, reporting to custody in March 2016 and being released in March 2019.

From there, he was held in an immigration detention center, fighting to appeal the decision to deport him back to Italy, where he was born, for seven months. But in October 2019, Joe chose to move to Italy and continue his appeal battle as a free man.

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