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‘Housewife’ defends digging up castmate’s past

"Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast member discovered a book alleging fellow castmate was arrested for extortion and involved with a kidnapping plot.
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On Tuesday’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Caroline and Dina Manzo dropped a bombshell: Their family discovered a book, “Cop Without a Badge,” that alleges that castmate Danielle Staub was arrested for extortion and involved with a kidnapping plot, drugs and stripping.

While Danielle didn’t exactly deny the allegations on Tuesday’s episode, she didn’t set the record straight either. Instead, she said she was a victim of circumstance — and vowed to confront the Manzo family.

So, is this just the beginning of the drama?

“There’s more to come,” Caroline Manzo told PEOPLE on the phone Tuesday afternoon. “Buckle up.”

While the reality star had to remain tight-lipped about future episodes, Manzo reveals more about how her family found the book, if she told sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita to stop being friends with Danielle and all about that now-infamous scene at the dance studio.  —Brian Orloff

Let’s talk about this book. You mentioned your niece found it. What’s the backstory?

This is something that literally fell into our laps. We had no reason to believe that Danielle was somebody other than [who] she represented herself to be. And my niece did tell us about it. When something this explosive falls into your lap, for anyone to just dismiss it would be foolish. It’s beyond catty gossip. There are a lot of facets to this story that can affect us in a negative way.

What do you mean by that? Were you concerned with your reputation if you associated with her?

I don’t care about reputation. What happened in the past is her business. I certainly don’t judge anybody. It was a safety concern. Nothing more.

You mean you don’t trust Danielle around young children?

Who would? Come on, let’s think about it: Would you put your child in a situation like that? Until we know the truth, you have to just act reasonably.

Did you tell Jacqueline flat-out to end her friendship with Danielle?

It seems to be the image that we don’t allow her to [know] outsiders and other friends. That’s so not true. However, Jacqueline looks at the world through rose-colored glasses. Something like this, you have to look at the situation and say, “I understand you want to give this person the benefit of the doubt, and I commend you for that. However, please, please look at this with your eyes wide open.” And that’s just what we did.

When you were at the dance studio, did you really feel like Danielle was being inappropriate with your son? Did you confront her?

My son is not a boy. He’s a grown man. I certainly didn’t think that I needed to protect him — or that she would make an advance on him. I just thought [her dancing] was inappropriate. I’m not one of those overbearing mothers. I have seen many girls hug my son [or] look at my son in certain ways, and I never found that to be insulting and inappropriate. My remark may have been snide, and I’ll own up to that. But I was there and it was a little too much.

What about Teresa’s husband’s comments? Was he being homophobic?

Joe’s a fantastic guy. They have friends and family that are gay and it was just one of those things that you say. There was no malice at all intended in that [remark]. He’s the most easygoing, laid back [guy]. Come on, he danced the cha-cha with his wife on national television.

As a mother, what are your thoughts about Danielle putting herself on a reality show knowing that her daughters will have to face this?

That’s Danielle’s issue. I’m not going to tell anybody else how to parent. We certainly have vast differences in our parenting decisions. I just hope that [her] children can get past this because they’re the ones who suffer.