Todd and Julie Chrisley found guilty of federal charges – NBC10 Philadelphia
Todd and Julie Chrisley, stars of the reality TV show “Chrisley Knows Best,” were convicted Tuesday in Atlanta of federal charges including bank fraud and tax evasion.
The Chrisleys were originally charged in August 2019 and a new indictment was filed in February this year. Their trial began three weeks ago and a jury on Tuesday found them guilty of conspiracy to defraud community banks out of more than $30 million in fraudulent loans, according to U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan’s office in Atlanta. They were also convicted of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and tax evasion, and Julie Chrisley was convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Bruce Morris, a lawyer for Todd Chrisley, said he was disappointed with the verdict and expects to appeal.
Prosecutors alleged that the Chrisleys submitted false documents to the banks when applying for the loan. They said Julie Chrisley also submitted a fake credit report and fake bank statements while trying to rent a house in California.
They used a business they controlled to hide income to prevent the IRS from collecting unpaid taxes owed by Todd Chrisley, prosecutors said.
After being found guilty, U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross allowed the Chrisleys to remain free on bail. But she placed them under surveillance and house arrest, which means they can only leave the house for certain reasons, including work, medical appointments and court appearances. They must also alert their probation officers to any expenses over $1,000, according to the order entered Tuesday.
Peter Tarantino, an accountant hired by the couple, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and willfully file false tax returns, the US Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said. He also remains free on bail.
Sentencing for all three is set for October 6.
“Chrisley Knows Best” follows the tight-knit and boisterous Chrisley family. The series has just been renewed by the United States for a 10th season, while the spin-off “Growing Up Chrisley”, starring children Chrisley Chase and Savannah living in Los Angeles, has just been renewed by E ! for a fourth season.
The trial began in mid-May, just days after E! announced that it was moving forward with a new dating series, “Love Limo,” hosted by Todd Chrisley.
“As today’s result shows, when you lie, cheat and steal, justice is blind to your fame, fortune and position,” said FBI Atlanta Chief Special Agent Keri Farley. in a press release. “Ultimately, driven by greed, the verdict of guilty on all counts for these three defendants proves once again that financial crimes don’t pay.”
Before the Chrisleys became reality TV stars, they and a former business partner submitted false documents to Atlanta-area banks to secure millions of dollars in fraudulent loans, prosecutors said. They spent lavishly on luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate and travel and used new fraudulent loans to pay off old ones, they said. Todd Chrisley later filed for bankruptcy, forfeiting more than $20 million in loans, prosecutors said.
While her husband was in bankruptcy proceedings, Julie Chrisley created false financial documents to rent a house in Los Angeles, prosecutors said. Once in the house, they failed to pay the rent and the landlord sued for eviction.
It was around the time Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy that the Chrisleys began performing on their reality show. He first recorded in the Atlanta area and then in Nashville. They made millions from the show and conspired with Tarantino to evade taxes, prosecutors said.
They operated a loan company that collected their income from the show and other businesses and kept the company’s bank accounts in Julie Chrisley’s name to avoid collecting half a million dollars in arrears. taxes that Todd Chrisley owed, prosecutors said. When the IRS requested bank account information, they transferred ownership to Todd Chrisley’s mother to try to further hide his income from tax officials, authorities say.
Prosecutors said the couple did not file taxes or pay taxes for several years, despite Todd Chrisley claiming on a radio show that he pays $750,000 to $1million a year in federal income taxes.
Tarantino filed two false tax returns for the loan company, falsely claiming it earned no money and made no distributions in 2015 and 2016, prosecutors said.
Julie Chrisley submitted a forged document in response to a grand jury subpoena to make it look like the Chrisleys didn’t lie to the bank when they transferred ownership of the loan company to the mother of her husband, prosecutors said.