Real crimes committed by Real Housewives

Bravo's Real Housewives franchise was born in 2005 when the network revealed plans to make a reality TV version of ABC's Desperate Housewiveswhich was still new at the time but was proving very popular. "Viewers have been riveted by the fictionalized versions of such lifestyles on television," Bravo's then-president Lauren Zalaznick said (via Reality TV World). "Now, here is a series that depicts real-life 'desperate' housewives with an authentic look at their compelling day-to-day drama." The Real Housewives of Orange County premiered in 2006, and several spin-off shows would emerge in the years that followed, turning numerous well-to-do housewives into TV stars.

While some have managed to adjust to a life of TV fame with relative ease, others haven't been as graceful. A few of them even had hidden criminal pasts that weren't brought to light until they debuted on the show. Check out the real rap sheets on these Real Housewives stars.

Was Joshua Waring framed?

Joshua Waring, who appeared alongside his mother Lauri Peterson in The Real Housewives of Orange County, has been in and out of prison several times over the years. It started with drug charges, but in June 2016 he was arrested on suspicion of something far more serious: attempted murder. According to the Los Angeles Times, police alleged that Waring, then 27, shot a 35-year-old male in the lower torso outside the man's home, said to be a known drug den. "Apparently there had been a previous confrontation between [Waring] and the occupants of that residence earlier, and he had returned," police said. Waring was reportedly apprehended following a police chase. He was booked on "suspicion of attempted murder, vehicle theft, felony evading police, hit-and-run and assault and battery," according to the Times.

Waring went down for the shooting, but both he and his mother maintain that he's innocent. According to Waring, the real perpetrator is a man named Bryan Goldstein, an alleged drug dealer and police informant. "I'm trying to prove I did not do the shooting," Waring told Cheat Sheet in 2019. "But how do I prove that when throughout the entire investigation law enforcement has protected him?" Peterson also claims that her son is being mistreated behind bars, but there's one huge silver lining to his incarceration — he's off the drugs as of 2018. "I wish it would have been his choice to become clean," Peterson told Page Six. "But regardless, I'm thankful for that."

Greed sent Teresa and Joe Giudice to the slammer

It was greed that ultimately sent The Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Teresa and Joe Giudice to jail. The couple was indicted on federal fraud charges in 2013, accused of exaggerating their earnings in loan applications and then downplaying their overall worth in a shady bankruptcy claim. Both initially pleaded not guilty, but later changed their pleas as part of a deal that had the potential for them to avoid jail time if they played ball. All the Giudices had to do was disclose a comprehensive list of their assets to the court, but it appears they didn't learn their lesson.

Judge Esther Salas determined that the forms the couple submitted were still not accurate (around $75,000 worth of items reportedly remained unaccounted for), and she decided to throw the book at them. "I don't honestly believe you understand or respect the law," Salas said (via People). "I need to send a message. In the eye of the law, it doesn't matter who you are. There are consequences to pay." Husband and wife were sentenced to 15 and 41 months in prison, respectively.

Joe was transferred to an immigration detention center after being released from prison in 2019. The shamed reality star (who was born in Saronno, Italy) returned to his home country while awaiting his deportation case. In October 2019, Joe's lawyer told People, "We are still fighting and it is his desire to return home to the United States to be reunited with his family."

Danielle Staub's seriously sordid past

The criminal past of the forever-at-odds-with-her-castmates The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub was exposed in 2009 during the show's infamous first season. According to documents obtained by The Smoking Gun, Staub (who went by Beverly Ann Merrill at the time) was a major player in a crime story worthy of a Hollywood movie. Federal court records reveal that she was charged with eight felonies back in 1986, including extortion and cocaine possession. Staub and associate Daniel Aguilar, who allegedly peddled drugs for a Colombian cartel, were said to have held a man captive after a botched drug deal that cost them $24,000 worth of narcotics.

Prosecutors claimed that Staub phoned the man's father and "threatened injury or death" to his son "unless a sum of money was paid" to cover their losses. The FBI traced the call and Staub got busted, but she managed to cut a deal. She reportedly agreed to "provide full and complete cooperation" as part of her plea bargain, which saw her walk away with five years probation. Aguilar (who sensationally claimed that Staub was working as an escort when they met) didn't get off as easy — he was sent down for 15 years.

According to one motion filed by the prosecution, Staub was subjected to death threats after flipping on Aguilar. The future RHONJ star reportedly received one particularly frightening phone call from a man who simply said: "Your life is at an end, honey." Thankfully, she's still with us.

2015 was a bad year for Kim Richards

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills veteran Kim Richards made unwanted headlines in April 2015 when she was arrested following "a report of a possible fight" at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Richards was "displaying symptoms of alcohol intoxication including slurred speech and belligerent, insolent behavior," the Beverly Hills Police Department said in a statement (via People). The TV star was also accused of "cursing at the officers" as she "passively resisted" her arrest.

She checked straight into rehab after she got busted, but that gesture apparently wasn't enough to convince the DA's office that she was truly remorseful about her actions — Richards was charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest, and battery on an officer the following month. According to TMZ, Richards was ordered to complete three years probation, 30 days community service (reduced from community labor on account of her bad foot), and 52 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. 

Richards wasn't out of the tabloids for long. The troubled reality star was caught trying to shoplift $600 worth of goods from Target in August 2015. She was ordered to stay clear of the store in question and was given more of the same in terms of punishment. Richards was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, three years probation, and, just like the last time, 52 AA meetings, but the judge decided that she didn't have to "repeat the community service and AA meetings twice," TMZ revealed.

Sonja Morgan tarnished her 'legacy' with a DWI bust

Sonja Morgan is the former wife of John Adams Morgan, one of five sons of Henry S. Morgan, whose grandfather founded American banking institution J.P. Morgan & Company. She's clearly very proud to be a Morgan ("It's not just a last name, I'm a legacy," she famously declared for her Season 10 tagline on The Real Housewives of New York City), but she brought disgrace to her iconic family name in 2010 when she was arrested for driving while intoxicated. The New York Post broke the news, revealing that Morgan stood accused of blowing a stop sign in the beachy hamlet of Southampton Village on Long Island, N.Y., then failed to cooperate once pulled over. "Sources said she had been partying on the East End over the course of the Memorial Day weekend," the Post reported.

Morgan (who was still a relatively new addition to the RHONY cast at the time) is said to have failed a number of field sobriety tests, which, if true, could be why she flat out refused to take part in a Breathalyzer test. She was hauled off to a police station when she declined, where she was handed a DWI (driving while impaired). Either way, it didn't look good for the fledgling reality star, who apparently decided that radio silence was the best tactic going forward. "Sonja cannot comment as it is a legal matter," a rep for the Real Housewives star told People.

Porsha Williams made getting arrested look good

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams turned herself in to police in April 2014 after being charged with a misdemeanor count of simple battery — but not before making sure she was camera ready. The reality star looked on fleek in her mugshot (above), rocking smokey eye makeup, pink lipstick, and a cheeky little smile for good measure. She paid her $2000 bail in cash and walked right on out of there. The charge levied against her followed a physical altercation between Williams and her co-star Kenya Moore, which went down during a taping of a RHOA reunion special. "Porsha stood up, so then Kenya stood up," an eye witness recalled to Us Weekly. "Porsha charged at Kenya and pulled her hair, but it was over in a matter of seconds."

Williams looked totally unperturbed about being in a police station in her sassy mugshot, but she later revealed that it was a terrible experience. "It was the worst day of my life," she told Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen on his Bravo show, Watch What Happens Live (via Radar Online). "I'd never done anything in my life to end me up in a jail and have to get a mugshot. For me to have to be there because of Kenya Moore literally was the worst moment of my life." Being in the police station didn't scare her straight, however. In December 2014, Williams was arrested for allegedly going 78 mph in a 55 zone.

Apollo Nida was a repeat offender

Apollo Nida, who appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta alongside his then-wife Phaedra Parks, was jailed in July 2014 for his involvement in a fraud scheme that is said to have scammed victims out of millions of dollars. According to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Nida was able to steal the identities of as many as 50 people using personal information gathered through two bogus companies he set up. "Today's sentencing exemplifies impartial justice regardless of economic class or perceived celebrity status," U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Reginald Moore said at the time (via CNN). "Nida's sentence should be an eye-opener for other like-minded criminals who scheme to steal victims' identities, defraud them and ignore the consequences of their actions."

Nida (who had previously spent five years in a federal prison for auto title fraud) was sentenced to eight years behind bars in what turned out to be one of Bravo's biggest scandals ever. He was reportedly transferred to maximum security in 2016 after getting caught with a smuggled cell phone. His marriage to Parks came to an end the following year, but he had some better luck in 2019 when his sentence was reduced by one year. After a little hiccup in which he was briefly taken back into custody for breaking his halfway house conditions, he was set free. Nida is now engaged to a Pennsylvania-based realtor named Sherien Almufti, and the pair can't seem to stop gushing about one another on Instagram.

Kelly Bensimon beat her beatdown rap

Former teen model Kelly Bensimon was new to the cast of The Real Housewives of New York City when she was charged with misdemeanor third-degree assault. The reality star was taken into custody in 2009 following an alleged physical altercation with her then-boyfriend, Nick Stefanov. "She was arrested on March 5 at 9:10 a.m. for punching her fiancé in the face," the New York City Police Department told People. "[She] gave him a laceration under his left eye." Bensimon entered a not guilty plea, and her lawyer Stephen Turano called the charges "unfounded" in a statement to the press. "We look forward to a quick resolution," Turano added.

To her delight, Bensimon was able to reach a deal. She would complete two days of community service, but didn't have to plead guilty and would have the assault charges dropped, so long as she could stay out of trouble for 12 months. "I'm very pleased," Bensimon said after the deal was agreed (via the New York Post). "Justice was served." There had been reports that Bensimon and Stefanov (who is ten years younger than the now-ex RHONY star) were engaged at the time of their altercation, but she strongly denied that. According to the 6-foot former marathon runner, things only became violent when her toy boy got clingy. "I learned that if a man is in your apartment and he won't leave, that you should absolutely do whatever it takes," Bensimon said.

Dana Wilkey claimed she was the victim here

The FBI indicted former The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills guest star Dana Wilkey (the one who wore those sunglasses that were allegedly worth $25,000) with "conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aiding and abetting, and [making] false statements to government agents" in 2014. Wilkey wrote checks worth about $360,000 in "illegal and undisclosed kickbacks" through her company, Adwil Agency, though she claimed that she was unaware she was doing anything illegal. She agreed to plead guilty to Count One of Misprision of a Felony as part of a deal, but she was still facing up to 20 years behind bars for her crimes.

In 2016, she reportedly begged a Federal Court judge not to impose the maximum sentence of two decades on her. According to papers obtained by Radar Online, Wilkey asked for five years probation and six months of monitoring as opposed to jail time, citing her traumatic past (her first husband allegedly made threats on her life while high on prescription meds) and otherwise good character. She maintains that she was unaware that her business partner had been defrauding people and claimed that she'll carry "everlasting regret" for ever trusting her. She was clearly convincing, because it appears as though Wilkey never saw the inside of a cell — she remains active on Twitter to this day.

Gina Kirschenheiter and her ex faced the law in 2019

The Real Housewives of Orange County star Gina Kirschenheiter took full responsibility for her actions after getting hit with a DUI in 2019. Officers pulled her over for a traffic violation but then suspected she'd been drinking, the Orange County Sheriff's Department confirmed. Citing "a very bad choice" she made "after a mom's night out," Kirschenheiter told E! News in a statement, "I am extremely disappointed in myself and regret my actions wholeheartedly. I have learned a valuable lesson and hope to show you all that this one incident does not define me."

2019 was an eventful year for Gina. In August she finalized her divorce from husband Matt Kirschenheiter, who was arrested on domestic violence charges just a few months prior. According to The Blast, Gina took out a protective order against Matt a few days before officers booked him. She reportedly requested an emergency hearing about her partner's violent streak. She later gave a harrowing account of what actually went down on a 2019 RHOC reunion show.

According to Gina, Matt got violent after he was kicked out of an Uber for bad behavior and had to walk home. "I was really scared," she revealed (via the Daily Mail). "I ran out of the house, and I rang my neighbor's doorbell, and I was banging on the door. And he dragged me back in the house." According to Gina, her ex is facing up to seven years behind bars.

Luann de Lesseps did the crime ... and her time

Real Housewives of New York City's Luann de Lesseps was arrested for "resisting an officer with violence, trespassing an occupied structure and disorderly intoxication conduct" in 2017. According to The Palm Beach Post, the reality star "slammed [a] door" and "shoved an officer in the chest" as police attempted to detain her in Florida. She reportedly shouted "I'm going to kill you" as she was carted off to Palm Beach County Jail. De Lesseps was sentenced to one year of probation as part of a plea deal, which also required her to complete 50 hours of community service and attend two Alcohol Anonymous meetings a week, E! News confirmed.

She hit one minor hurdle along the way (she was briefly taken back into custody for violating the no-booze clause in her deal), but Luann de Lesseps was officially taken off probation in August 2019. "I'm happy to say after a long difficult year... I've made it through!" she said in a celebratory Instagram post. "I'm humbled and grateful for this life lesson and ready to put the past behind me and move on with my life. Wish me luck! Thank you for your undying support over the years." She remains a RHONY OG and apparently has no intention of leaving the show.

NeNe Leakes' pre-Housewives life was pretty sketchy

In 2014, The Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes was one of the highest earning housewives on the payroll, but her reputation was about to take a huge knock. She admitted to shoplifting from a mall when she was in her early 20s in her 2009 autobiography Never Make the Same Mistake Twice, but that title clearly didn't mean much to Leakes, because she broke the law on more than one occasion. What she didn't mention in her supposed tell-all was that she got charged with "three felony and one misdemeanor counts of 'theft of services'" back in 1992, documents obtained by Star magazine revealed.

Leakes pleaded guilty to all four counts. According to Radar Online, the future reality star got two years of probation, which she would repeatedly violate. She was reportedly arrested three more times for not adhering to the terms and conditions of her deal. When mugshots taken at the time resurfaced in 2014, people couldn't help but notice just how different she looked, but it really shouldn't have come as a shock. The RHOA star has openly admitted to getting numerous plastic surgeries over the years.