As he awaits the final ruling in his ongoing deportation battle, Joe Giudice just wants his freedom.
Since his release from prison in March after completing a 41-month sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud, the Real Housewives of New Jersey star has been in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, being held at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, Joe’s legal team filed a petition requesting that he be allowed to move to Italy as he awaits the court’s final decision.
The family’s attorney James J. Leonard Jr. certified in a separate document obtained by PEOPLE that Joe “believes that his continued detention would create an extreme hardship on his family and he wishes to be released so that [he] can begin working and contributing financially to his wife and four young children, something that he has repeatedly stated he intends to do upon his release from custody.”
The official filing, also obtained by PEOPLE, states that “given the hardship to Mr. Giudice and his family from his continued detention, the balance of irreparable harm has shift and [Joe] has asked that the stay be lifted so that he could be released from USICE custody and returned to Italy during the pendency of this case.”
It goes on to state that Joe, 49, is still hopeful his appeal will be granted, allowing him to stay in the United States. In the event that he does prevail in his case after he has been released to Italy, Joe requested that ICE facilitate his return home.
The latest filing comes days after a judge denied Joe’s request to return to the New Jersey home he shares with wife Teresa Giudice, 47, and their daughters Gia, 18, Gabriella, 15, Milania, 14, and Audriana, 10.
“Joe is extremely disappointed,” Leonard told PEOPLE in a statement at the time. “He spent the last six months in a cage not able to hug or kiss his wife or daughters when they came to visit him. We treat animals in shelters better than we treat human beings in these ICE facilities.”
Joe and Teresa were indicted in 2013 when they were accused of hiding their fortune in a bankruptcy filing. Joe was also accused of failing to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008. Teresa was released from federal prison in 2015 after serving 11 months of a 15-month sentence for fraud.
In October, an immigration court ruled to deport Joe to his native Italy after his prison sentence. (Even though he 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.)
In May, the Bravo star was granted permission to continue living in the U. S. as he awaits his fate — a request his lawyers are now trying to lift.
His requests to appeal the deportation ruling have thus far been denied. A final decision is pending.
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