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‘Real Housewives’ star Teresa Giudice begins serving prison sentence

Teresa Giudice, pictured in Toronto in June 2012. John R. Kennedy / Global News

DANBURY, Conn. — One of New Jersey’s Real Housewives has gone to the big house.

An attorney representing Teresa Giudice says the star of Real Housewives of New Jersey reported to federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, on Monday morning to begin serving a 15-month sentence for bankruptcy fraud.

James Leonard says Giudice was anxious to “get this nightmare behind her” so she can return home to her family.

Her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, will start his 41-month sentence on similar charges when Teresa Giudice is released. The couple has four daughters.

They pleaded guilty last year to hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitting phony loan applications to get some $5 million in mortgages and construction loans.

Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes totaling more than $200,000.

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At the Giudices’ sentencing in October, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas criticized the couple for not disclosing all their assets as required under their plea agreement, calling it “the same pattern of obstruction, concealment and manipulation as they showed in the bankruptcy case.”

Still, Salas sentenced Teresa Giudice to a sentence below the range sought by the U.S. attorney’s office and staggered her sentence with her husband’s so they wouldn’t be in prison at the same time and unable to care for their four daughters.

Joe Giudice is not an American citizen, and he faces an immigration hearing when he completes his sentence and likely will be deported. His attorney has said Giudice came to the U.S. as an infant and didn’t know he wasn’t an American citizen until he was an adult.

Joe Giudice also pleaded guilty in state court in October to unlawful use of identification in a case involving a bogus driver’s license. His 18-month sentence will run concurrent with his federal sentence.

Last month, Teresa Giudice sued former attorney James Kridel, whose firm handled the couple’s bankruptcy case, alleging legal malpractice and negligence.

Reached by phone last week, Kridel called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and denied the claims.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” he said. “We can only rely on the facts that were provided to us. I don’t wish her any ill will, but I would have preferred a ‘thank you’ rather than a lawsuit.”

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Real Housewives of New Jersey airs on Slice, part of Shaw Media (parent company of Global News).