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Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison

updated 12/23/2015 AT 11:20 AM EST

originally published 12/23/2015 AT 07:30 AM EST

Teresa Giudice was released from federal prison at 5:01 a.m. on Wednesday after nearly a year locked up.

She gave herself a makeover in the prison bathroom after her release.

She enjoyed a cappuccino in the SUV as soon as she got out.

Husband Joe Giudice had a new Lexus with a red bow waiting for her when she arrived home to New Jersey.



Teresa Giudice was all smiles as she walked out of prison this morning.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey star was seen cracking a small grin in the first pictures as she drove away from Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, after being released at 5:01 a.m.

The photos, obtained exclusively by PEOPLE, show Giudice being driven back to her home in New Jersey.

Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison| Crime & Courts, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Joe Giudice, Teresa Giudice

Teresa Giudice is seen here leaving prison on Wednesday morning

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After spending just under a year in prison, Giudice made a beeline for her home in New Jersey which husband Joe and daughters Gia, Gabriella, Milania and Audriana had festively decorated in eager anticipation of her arrival.

Also waiting for her: A black Lexus SUV with a large red bow.

"She is thrilled that she is finally going home," a source close to the reality star tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison| Crime & Courts, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Joe Giudice, Teresa Giudice

Teresa Giudice emerged from prison wearing a full face of makeup

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Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison| Crime & Courts, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Joe Giudice, Teresa Giudice

Husband Joe Giudice was waiting for Teresa when she arrive home in New Jersey on Wednesday

Elder Ordonez / INF


A source tells PEOPLE that Giudice took "some time to get herself together" and primp. She was seen in photos with a full face of makeup.

"Teresa was smiling when she emerged," the source says. "She was wearing all black and looked happy."

Guidice's attorney, James J. Leonard, Jr., told reporters outside the family's home that the star was "extremely upbeat" during the drive home, and they listened to Christmas music. She enjoyed a cappuccino as soon as she got in the car.

Upon her arrival, the source tells PEOPLE that "Joe was waiting for her in the driveway smiling, he looked like he was anxiously anticipating her arrival."

Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison| Crime & Courts, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Joe Giudice, Teresa Giudice

Teresa Giudice's new Lexus

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Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison| Crime & Courts, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Joe Giudice, Teresa Giudice

"We missed you": Teresa's daughters made welcome signs for her, which they posted on the front door of her New Jersey mansion

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Teresa Giudice Is Going Home! First Photos of RHONJ Star After Being Released from Prison| Crime & Courts, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, Joe Giudice, Teresa Giudice

A convoy of black SUVs escorted Teresa home – to a new Lexus

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The family then had a "very emotional, very private" reunion and that it was "something to see," Leonard said.

Gia even took to social media to express her excitement over her mother's return, writing, simply, "welcome back," with a smiley face.



The Giudices will spend the holiday with her family, and will keep it "nice, quiet, low-key," Leonard explained.

Following mandatory release paperwork and procedures, Giudice was released at 5:01 a.m., Leonard tells PEOPLE. "She is free," he says.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey star was found guilty of fraud charges and sentenced to 15 months in jail in October of 2014. She entered the minimum-security satellite camp for women, made popular by the hit Netflix show Orange Is the New Black, on Jan. 5 of this year.

"Prison was tough for her," says the source, "but she made the best of it."
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