'Housewives' couple Teresa and Joe Giudice plead guilty in fraud case

Teresa and Giuseppe

Teresa and Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" (3/4/14)

NEWARK - Teresa and Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" have pleaded guilty to fraud, but their Towaco neighbors are coming to their defense.

The husband and wife duo pleaded guilty to several counts of bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and failing to pay taxes.

Joe Giudice faces a potential sentence of three to almost four years, and Teresa Giudice could get up to two years, under federal guidelines.

In their Morris County neighborhood, the couple is known for their big personalities, big tempers and big lifestyle. 

Grace Suchocki cleaned their reported 10,000-square-foot house from time to time. "She's a very pleasant woman, believe it or not," Suchocki says. "People have different opinions. I have nothing against this family."

The Giudices grew up together in Paterson. He's an Italian citizen who worked in construction. She's a Berkeley College grad who's written several best-selling cookbooks.

"I had gotten one of her cookbooks," says Pauline Fernbach. "I asked her if she'd sign it. Not a problem. She was very friendly."

But many residents tell News 12 New Jersey that if the couple broke the law, they should face the consequences. "A lot of people like them a lot," says Anthony Azzarone, of Montville. "They're very well known. But what they did wasn't right."

Neighbors say they are concerned about who will care for the Giudices' four daughters if they both are sent to prison.

In a statement read by her lawyer, Teresa Guidice said she is taking responsibility for her mistakes and is "heartbroken" over the effect it has had on her young daughters.

The couple was accused in 2012 of exaggerating income while applying for loans before the show debuted in 2009, then hiding their fortunes in a bankruptcy filing after their first season aired.

Joe Giudice could face deportation after serving his prison sentence.

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