The Real Housewives of New Jersey star will begin his 41-month sentence on Wednesday, March 23, and thus he took time to say some goodbyes on Monday night with a little going away party.
Harms is a partner of the restaurant and tells us, "I've been friends with Joe and Teresa since before the show. My partners and I have gotten to know Joe over time and we wanted to do something nice for him two nights before he went away—a way for everyone to say goodbye."
He adds, "It was amazing, as perfect as I would have wanted it. It was just family and true friends...Teresa and the girls were there, obviously. Joe's mom and his sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles. It was a family reunion. There ended up being about 150 people. The restaurant was filled. It was great. About 50 kids."
Harms says there were no cameras filming for their Bravo show.
The event included a mechanical bull (which Teresa, Joe and their kids hopped on at one point), a buffet and some music, but the room was mostly filled with people laughing, talking and enjoying Joe's company before he leaves.
"There were toasts, [and] Joe had a few words to say. He told everyone, 'Stop making me cry, I'm not going to the electric chair,'" Harms revealed. "His attitude is as good as it can be. You can tell he's being strong for everyone else. There were a lot of tears."
The night was also special as it marked Melissa Gorga's 37th birthday. However, Harms tells us she really made sure the focus was entirely on Joe.
"I have to give her props: she didn't make it about her at all," he explained. "We didn't do a cake. It was Joe's party."
As for tonight—Joe's last night at home before heading to prison—Harms says, "Tonight is about family. Joe's spending it with his wife and kids."
He begins his sentence just three months after Teresa was released from prison following her 14-month sentencing. Joe is serving the time for being convicted of bankruptcy fraud and failure to file income tax returns.
Though 41 months may sound a little daunting to most of us, Joe has remained calm, calling his stay "no big deal."
—Reporting by Beth Sobol
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