Real Housewife Danielle's New Weave, Old Mugshot

Today, the New York Times ran a story about the grandiose homes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, for which cast member Danielle Staub was photographed and interviewed. Yesterday, Danielle's press wasn't nearly as flattering: New Jersey's The Star-Ledger exposed her criminal, stripper, and alleged "coke whore" past.

The preview of next week's episode of Real Housewives gave us a clue to Danielle's past: The book A Cop Without a Badge. Published in 1995, it's now out of print, and even Star-Ledger reporter Vicki Hyman had a tough time locating a copy at New Jersey libraries. But the hunt was worth it, as the information contained in it is juicier than Teresa's husband. Written by Charles Kipps, the book is the non-fiction account of con-man-turned-informant Kevin Maher, who left his wife and children for "the morally ambiguous charms of stripper Beverly Merrill" — Danielle's name at the time — "who by her own estimation had slept with about a thousand men." (Guess that's where the "husband stealer" rumor stems from.)

According to the book, Beverly is a "coke whore," who danced under the name "Danielle" at various topless bars in North Jersey, including Satin Dolls, aka Bada-Bing on The Sopranos. And, as hinted at on Real Housewives, Danielle does indeed have a criminal past that involves kidnapping and a Colombian cartel:

A few moments after meeting the undergarments-averse Merrill at a Miami drug party, Maher is told that Merrill is out on $10,000 bail. Apparently, Merrill was partying with a drug dealer who had kidnapped a rich kid who owed him $25,000. The dealer beat the kid up, starved him, then called the kid's father for ransom. The police busted them and charged Merrill with extortion, kidnapping and possession, but Maher, with his law enforcement connections, helped her work out a deal in which she pleaded guilty to extortion. She got five years' probation.

Her mugshot:

Real Housewife Danielle's New Weave, Old Mugshot

ONTD scanned in a few pages from the book:

Real Housewife Danielle's New Weave, Old Mugshot

Real Housewife Danielle's New Weave, Old Mugshot

Eventually Maher left her because he decided he wanted to have kids and didn't think she was "mother material."

In today's Times, Danielle poses — with her new long hair — for pictures in the 12,000 square foot Wayne, NJ home she lives in with her two daughters and her two dogs, Fendi and Paradise (who took a shit on her white carpet in front of the reporter). In an audio slide show, she talks about her endless amount of closet space, a wall of which looks like it's from a dressing room at a strip club rather than a McMansion in NJ…or maybe not.

Real Housewife Danielle's New Weave, Old Mugshot

'Real Housewives of New Jersey': Danielle Staub's Past Revealed In Book? [NJ.com]
Jersey Girls, Nesting [NYT]
Real New Jersey Housewife's ~Alleged~ Mugshot [ONTD]