Is Todd and Julie Chrisley Sentenced?
Todd and Julie Chrisley, stars of the reality program “Chrisley Knows Best,” were sentenced to federal prison on Monday after being convicted of cheating banks in order to get more than $30 million in personal loans and dodging taxes in order to support a luxurious lifestyle.
According to the Justice Department, Judge Eleanor Ross of U.S. District Court in Atlanta sentenced Mr. Chrisley, 54, to 12 years in prison and Ms. Chrisley, 49, to seven years in jail. The Justice Department says that they will also have to pay restitution and be on probation for three years. The amount of restitution will be decided at a later date.
The two acted on TV as if they were rich real estate moguls who lived in luxury. In June, they were found guilty of plotting to cheat banks and not paying taxes for several years.
A jury found the pair guilty on eight charges of financial fraud and two counts of tax evasion after a three-week trial; Ms. Chrisley was convicted on additional counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
James Dorsey, an I.R.S. criminal investigation agent, said in a statement released on Monday that the Chrisleys did these things “to reduce their tax burden and give the impression that they were wealthy.”
“This punishment provides notice that there are significant repercussions for scamming the American tax system, regardless of a person’s celebrity position,” Mr. Dorsey said.
Ms. Chrisley’s lawyer, Stephen Friedberg, said Monday night that Judge Ross had ordered them to go to prison after January 1. Alex Little, the lawyer for the Chrisley family, says that the two plan to appeal their convictions.
“Their trial was hampered by substantial and frequent mistakes, including the government misrepresenting the couple’s tax payments to jurors,” Mr. Little said. “We are positive about the way ahead based on these problems.”
Mr. Friedberg and another lawyer representing Ms. Chrisley requested a lower term with a “combination of probation, restitution, and community service” so she could care for her children and sick mother, according to documents filed on Friday.
Mr. Friedberg also requested that the couple’s sentences be staggered until their youngest daughter graduated from high school or turned 18 years old.
Prosecutors stated in a sentencing letter that Mr. Chrisley could face more than 21 years in jail, and Ms. Chrisley may face more than 12 years, depending on sentencing standards.
“The Chrisleys created an enterprise based on the fiction that their money came from hard work and commitment,” prosecutors said. “The unanimous decision establishes the truth: Todd and Julie Chrisley are professional swindlers who have built a life by hopping from one fraud scheme to the next, lying to banks, stiffing suppliers, and dodging taxes at every turn.”
According to the Justice Department, the Chrisleys utilized false bank statements, audit reports, and personal financial statements to defraud Atlanta-area banks and obtain more than $36 million in personal loans with the assistance of a former business partner.
The money was spent on fancy automobiles, real estate, and other frivolous purchases by the couple. Mr. Chrisley declared bankruptcy after they had spent all of the money, according to the Justice Department.
Prosecutors claim that after making millions of dollars from their reality TV program, the couple colluded to mislead the Internal Revenue Service with the assistance of their accountant, Peter Tarantino, 60. According to the Justice Department, the couple created business bank accounts in Ms. Chrisley’s name to avoid paying roughly $500,000 in outstanding taxes owed by Mr. Chrisley.
However, when the IRS requested information regarding the accounts in Ms. Chrisley’s name, the couple transferred ownership of their business bank account to another family member in order to conceal their income from the IRS, according to the Justice Department.
(Later, after learning about the grand jury investigation, Ms. Chrisley filed a false document in response to a grand jury subpoena to make it appear as if the couple had not lied to the bank when they transferred ownership of the corporate account to a relative, according to the Justice Department.)
According to the Justice Department, the couple did not file or pay taxes in 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016. As part of the plan, Mr. Tarantino submitted two corporate tax returns for the loan-out firm that fraudulently stated that the company did not generate money or make distributions in 2015 or 2016.
Along with the Chrisleys, Judge Ross sentenced Mr. Tarantino to three years in jail and three years on probation on Monday; he was convicted in June of filing fake corporate tax returns for the Chrisleys’ firm.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan stated that the length of the Chrisleys’ terms reflected “the scale of their illegal plan” and that they “should serve as a caution to those tempted to exploit our nation’s community banking system for illegitimate personal gain.”