RHONJ's Teresa & Joe Giudice Break Their Silence: Biggest Bombshells from Andy Cohen's Interview
Shortly after their 20th wedding anniversary, Teresa, 47, sat down with Cohen, 51, in his New York studio, while Joe, 49, appeared via satellite from Salerno, Italy, where he moved earlier this month to wait out his deportation ruling.
“It’s different, that’s for sure,” Joe said of his new residence. “I am living in my grandmother’s home right now. It’s small, but it’s fine.”
Here are the biggest bombshells from their chat.
Much of the conversation was focused on the current state of Joe and Teresa’s marriage, and the cheating rumors that have followed both of them.
Back in February, Teresa was photographed holding hands with a man 20 years her junior, but her attorney denied to PEOPLE the two were romantically involved. Meanwhile, gossip about Joe’s infidelity had often been brought up on RHONJ.
Joe has denied those allegations, and on Sunday’s WWHL special, said he remained faithful to Teresa even when they were each away in prison.
Asked by Cohen if Joe believed Teresa had also been faithful, he said, “no, I don’t think so.”
Teresa maintained that she and the man she was photographed with were “just friends,” telling Joe, “You were photographed with women also.”
“That’s why it made it okay for you?” responded Joe sarcastically.
But Teresa still said she doubted he’d been faithful. And later, Joe bristled when she said she thought he’d have a mistress in Italy if they stayed married.
“It’s been three and a half years. If I wanted to be with somebody, I could be with somebody this week,” Joe said. “That’s not what I’m looking to do.”
Joe described his final moments in the United States, revealing that immigration officers were taking photographs with him as they escorted the reality star on the plane to Italy. (An ICE spokesperson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
“I had two immigration officers, one on each side, taking selfies with me the whole time,” Joe told Cohen, adding that they left from an airport in Washington, D.C. “One guy in front, and I think there was someone else who carried a gun on a plane. You know, I’m a very dangerous guy.”
Joe went on to share that those same officers then turned to him for advice on destinations they should visit while touring Italy.
“They stood on the plane all the way until we got to Rome. I told them where to go and have a good time, because they were staying there ’til Monday, so they were heading out to a few islands in Naples and then they were heading back home,” Joe adds. “So told them where to go. I gave them recommendations to go and have a good time.”
Throughout the entire experience, Joe says he wasn’t handcuffed.
“They wanted to handcuff me. I was like, ‘Listen, I’m not getting in no handcuffs,’ ” Joe says to Cohen. “They’re like, ‘Will you behave?’ It’s like, ‘What the hell am I going to do? If I wanted to leave, I would like just kick your butts and leave. I ain’t going to do that. I go, ‘I want to go on the plane. I want to get the hell out of here.’ “
3. Teresa Is Happy with Joe’s Weight Loss
“He’s very fit,” she said of her husband’s dramatic physical transformation behind bars.
She joked that Joe was more “fluffy” before giving up alcohol and working out in prison, but he objected to the word, so she settled on “bloated.”
“I was very, very, hard,” Joe said in his defense. “I might have been big, but I was never fluffy.”
4. The ICE Facility Was Worse Than Federal Prison for Joe
Joe explained why he ultimately asked to be released to Italy rather than wage his appeal home in the United States.
“Sitting in immigration was a waste of time. You’re doing a whole other sentence in there. There was no way I was going to do another year in that county prison. Being in there is like having your head in a panini press,” he said.
In federal prison he completed his high school diploma and started working on a sport picking business, Joe said. But he called ICE “a terrible facility,” saying he was locked in a small cell with eight people for five months and was once put in solitary confinement for opening a window in the gym.
“It’s ridiculous. That place should be shut down,” he said. “My wife and kids came a few times to see me, and it’s terrible. You’re literally behind the glass and then I have to be in an orange jumpsuit.”
5. Teresa and Joe Didn’t Reach Out to President Donald Trump for a Pardon
Although the reality stars are friendly with Trump from Teresa’s time on Celebrity Apprentice, they confirmed they did not ask him for help.
“He has so much on his plate, that guy,” Joe said. “Even if he could maybe try to do something, I don’t know if he would get criticized. I don’t know what they would do to him.
“Andy, with the whole immigration thing that’s going on, that he’s fighting for. I would never do that to the president.” Teresa said, adding it would be putting him in a bad position.
Would they consider reaching out to Trump to get pardoned after the deportation ordeal is over?
“I hate to predict what I’m going to do in the future, but we’ll see,” Teresa said. “You never know.”
She added, “I would love to be pardoned,” noting that she cannot vote as an ex-con.
6. Joe Regrets Not Becoming a U.S. Citizen
“My mistake was I never became a citizen, that was stupid of me,” he admitted. “But when you’re raised here as a kid, you go to school here, you do everything here, it’s not a big deal. Especially when you’re not a criminal. All I did was bust my ass my whole life, and believe me, I was a hard worker. I broke the law. But when you come in illegally and break the law, it’s worse. And these people have more rights than the people who come in legally.”
He also said he doesn’t blame his wife at all: “I don’t blame Teresa. When you’re in there, your mind is off. I blamed everyone in there.”
7. Teresa Is ‘Nervous’ About Seeing Joe in Person for the First Time
The reality star will be heading to Italy in early November with their four girls to see Joe for the first time, and Cohen said the Bravo cameras will be coming along. And though she said she’s looking forward to reuniting as a family, Teresa also admitted that she’s “nervous.”
“I’m going to be honest with you,” she told Cohen. “I haven’t seen Joe in three years and eight months. I’ve definitely changed, and I’m sure he has, too. And I thought he didn’t change speaking to him before, but now the way I’m seeing him speak, he looks changed. In a good way.
“I definitely have a lot more patience these days,” the father of four said. “You take things for granted when you have everything and everything’s taken away, even your family. I’ve apologized to my wife and to my family many times. The only thing you can do is look forward.”
As for Teresa, she said she “became more independent” — as did her kids. “They’re amazing,” she said of her girls. “They had to take care of themselves.”
She added, “I like the person I am now.”
8. Teresa Still Blames Joe for the Time She Lost with Her Family
“There’s no one else to blame, so yeah, I still blame him,” Teresa said, noting how her mother died shortly after she got out of prison. “I got really angry when I lost my mom. Before that I wasn’t really angry, but then after that, it all hit me. and I became more open and more expressive of how I felt. No one should judge me unless they’re walking in my shoes. unless they walk the walk, they don’t understand it.”
“It was very hard,” Joe said, thinking back to the time Teresa went to prison. “I drank the most when she was away. I wouldn’t drink during the day but I would drink at night when I came home, I would literally drink a couple of bottles of wine — after the kids went to sleep, of course, I would literally drink two bottles of wine. Every night I thought about her. At the time I just lost my dad and it was a tough situation.”
“I couldn’t stand going there, seeing her there,” he said of visiting his wife in prison. “I would lose it. She didn’t deserve to be there. And me feeling guilty that she’s there, of course.”
9. Joe Reflected on the Life Events He Missed
One of the most touching parts of the special was when Joe looked back at the events he missed while he was gone.
“I was very upset I didn’t get to see my daughter [Gia] graduate high school,” Joe said. “Bringing her to college. At least out here, I can see her play soccer and FaceTime.”
“I’m pretty close to my daughters,” he added. “We talk all the time. I’m constantly texting and sending pictures and doing video chats with them, which is good.
”Joe also missed out on Teresa’s foray into body-building, documented on a previous season of RHONJ. While she had said on the radio that Joe wasn’t a fan of her showcasing her body, he disagreed.
“It’s something she wanted to do, and I supported her,” Joe said. “She did good, I think she got third place or something.”
When Cohen asked if Joe thought she looked “hot,” though, he said simply. “It’s the way she looked when started dating, she was chopped up like that.”
10. Teresa Said She Wouldn’t Move to Italy with the Kids
“The kids don’t want to go there,” Teresa insisted. “It’s like, they’ve been through enough.”
Joe supported that.“I would not want anyone to move here with me. Come on, that’s crazy. My kids are grounded there. I’m not going to pick them up and move them here. I can go someplace close, and we can go back and forth to the United States a few times. We can make things work.”
But will they keep their New Jersey mansion?
“I want to keep the girls there during this transition and I’m glad I was able to, but it is a lot to upkeep,” Teresa said.
“I tell her, she’s got to get someone with a lot of money to take care of those things,” Joe put in. “She needs to not date these young guys who have no money. She needs to date these guys who have money. She has four kids, her way of living isn’t cheap. She’s high maintenance. She makes a good paycheck, but at the end of the day, she still needs more. It’s just the way it goes. I’ve supported her for a long time.”
11. Teresa and Joe Weren’t Attracted to Each Other When They Were in Prison
One of the most surprising parts of the conversation was when Teresa and Joe admitted they didn’t find the other attractive when they were behind bars.
“Every time I went to go see him, I felt nothing,” Teresa said. “I never wanted to kiss him or anything. I just didn’t like the whole environment. I didn’t want to kiss him with all those people watching.”
“I didn’t like her being in there, either,” Joe added. “I didn’t look at her and find her attractive. It’s just that environment. You just don’t like to see the people that you love in there.”
12. Joe Said He Regrets Doing RHONJ — But Teresa Doesn’t
Despite all that’s happened to her family since joining the Bravo franchise, Teresa said she looks back on her time on television without any regrets.
“Teresa always wanted to be on television,” Joe said. “She wanted to be a movie star, even when she was a little girl.”
But Joe implied the reality TV spotlight is what landed him in prison. “I wish I never would have done it,” he said. “I had a great life before. The show just brought a lot of attention to us. Just having a house like that alone just brings a lot of attention. I’ve never had so many damn lawsuits in my life ’til I got on that show.”
“Now there’s only one thing to do,” he said, “make things better and move on.”
13. Teresa Thinks Caroline Manzo Ratted Her Family Out
At one point during the special, Cohen looked back at former RHONJ star Caroline Manzo’s on-camera prediction that Joe would have to go to jail and Teresa would divorce him afterward. Manzo’s words appeared prophetic to Cohen, but Teresa saw them as “sad” — and an indication that Manzo might have been behind her and Joe’s trouble with the feds.
“How could she predict that?” Teresa asked. “Could she have anything to do with what happened to Joe and I? Is she a rat? With her saying that? Those words would never come out of my life, regarding anybody. Maybe [she called the feds]! Those words would never come out of my mouth.”
Previously, Teresa had accused Manzo and their RHONJ costar Jacqueline Laurita of being behind the government’s investigation into her family’s finances. Both have denied those claims.
14. Will They Stay Together?
In the end, the status of Joe and Teresa’s marriage remained up in the air.
“If we stay together, we stay together, if we don’t, we don’t,” Joe said. “It’s a conversation, we’ll see. … As long as she’s happy, that’s all that really matters. I’m not going to tell her what to do. If she doesn’t feel like she wants to be with me anymore, then that’s the thing to do.”
Both maintained that they still love each other. “Of course, she’s my wife. I’ve been with her a long time. No matter what happens, I’ll always love her,” Joe said.
“I do love him as a person,” Teresa said. “I’ll start crying. I do care about him, I love him.”
Still, she again said she would have no choice but to divorce Joe if he has to stay in Italy full-time.
“I want to wake up with someone every single day,” she said, explaining that her girls understood it. “I think they get it. I don’t think they want to see it happen, obviously, but I think they understand. Because the way I explained it to them, how are we going to live apart? I don’t think he would be faithful. I think he would have someone there and have me here. I just don’t want to live that life.”
The Giudices also agreed they’re not making any decisions right now.
“I’m waiting until I get there to see if I feel differently,” Teresa said of their visit in a few weeks. “I just feel like when you live apart. … He says the same thing, when he sees me, he may not want this either. We’ll know when we see each other.”
Teresa and Joe are parents to daughters Gia, 18, Gabriella, 15, Milania, 13, and Audriana, 10.
They have been married for 20 years, though they have been living apart for years. Joe began a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud in March 2016; Teresa served a little over 11 months in prison for the same crimes, and was released on Dec. 23, 2015.
Joe was released from prison last March but was held in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania, awaiting a decision on his deportation ruling.
Though Joe has lived in the United States since he was a child, he never obtained American citizenship, and immigrants can be deported if they are convicted of “a crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony,” according to U.S. law.
That ruling came Joe’s way last October. He’s appealed twice so far, and has been denied both times. A final ruling is expected in November.
A petition to be released back to his home wasn’t granted, but a request to go to Italy was. Earlier this month, he was released from ICE custody and flew to Rome, where he has been spending time with family and FaceTiming his children.
While Teresa has publicly stood by her husband thus far, she has also been realistic about the fate of their marriage should he be deported, admitting on the RHONJ season 9 reunion that she’s “not doing a long-distance relationship.”
In the season 10 trailer for RHONJ, Teresa admitted that she doesn’t know if she’s still in love with Joe.
“I feel like I’m living the worst nightmare ever,” she told Danielle Staub, adding that she feels like “drinking a bottle of tequila every night.”
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That trailer also included footage of Teresa showing a photo of a man she said she “hooked up” with, though her attorney James J. Leonard Jr. told PEOPLE he was a man named Tony, whom Teresa kissed “more than 30 years ago when they were in high school together.”
“[The media has] been writing about cheating and divorce rumors for the last 10 years, but guess what? Nobody is cheating, nobody is getting divorced,” he told PEOPLE. “The truth? Teresa and the girls are going to see Joe the first week of November. They talk and FaceTime every day. Everyone is happy. No one is fighting.”
“There is an amazing story of love and perseverance, but I guess that doesn’t sell magazines or get clicks on websites,” Leonard added. “Even if you don’t like Joe and Teresa, think about their four daughters and please stop trying to destroy this family. They have been through enough.”
Season 10 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey premieres Nov. 6 (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.