EXCLUSIVE: Joe Giudice Spent His Last 'Sad Day' of Freedom Surrounded by Family and Friends
By Desiree Murphy
The Giudice family has been forced to separate once again.
Exactly three months after Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice was released from the Danbury Correctional Facility in Danbury, Connecticut, after nearly a year behind bars for four counts of fraud, husband Joe Giudice checked himself into the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey, on Wednesday morning to begin his 41-month prison sentence for the same crime.
"Today was a sad day," a source close to the family told ET. "[Joe and Teresa's] attorney, James Leonard, drove Joe, Teresa, his brother and sister and an assortment of family members [to the prison]."
According to the source, 10 people in two separate cars were en route, stopping at a Starbucks on the way, where Joe simply ordered a bottle of water.
"Teresa was emotional, very emotional," the source added, telling ET that Joe and Teresa were able to have a surprisingly private goodbye on Wednesday morning before family and friends -- including Joe and Melissa Gorga -- came over. Before heading out, everyone ate breakfast together, which consisted of bagels, juice and fruit.
The source also told ET that Teresa and Joe's four daughters -- Gia, Gabriella, Milania and Audriana -- did not travel with them to the prison. They said goodbye to their father earlier in the morning before heading to school.
Teresa hopped on social media, too, posting a series of pics of her "beautiful family."
She also took to Twitter to thank her followers for "the love & support" they've shown her and her family "during this difficult time."
Joe seemingly soaked up all the family time he could get during his last weekend of freedom. An eyewitness told ET that Joe, Teresa and kids drove down to Virginia in Teresa's new Lexus for Gabriella's Jefferson Cup soccer tournament.
The "#proudmommy" revealed over Instagram that her athletic daughter "played amazing."
As ET previously reported, Joe and Teresa were allowed to serve time separately so that one of them could be home to take care of their children. The couple sat down with ET's Jen Peros earlier this month for an exclusive interview, where Joe revealed that "going to jail" is "the easy part" -- it's the anticipation that's difficult.
"I think it's what they put you through before you go," he explained. "They try to mentally and physically break you down, you know what I mean? So that's, I think, the hardest part of everything. I think going to jail is the easy part."