Todd and Julie Chrisley, self-made reality TV moguls, have been convicted of fraud

Todd and Julie Chrisley, self-made reality TV moguls, have been convicted of fraud

Todd and Julie Chrisley, the stars of “Chrisley Knows Best,” a reality TV show in which the couple projects themselves as real estate moguls who judge PG-rated family feuds by strict standards of conduct, were convicted Tuesday of conspiracy to commit fraud. $30 million banks and avoiding years of tax bills, the Justice Department said:

After a three-week trial in Atlanta Federal District Court, a jury found the Chrisleys guilty on all counts — together eight counts of financial fraud and two counts of tax evasion, with Ms. Chrisley also was convicted of additional counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Their accountant, Peter Tarantino, was found guilty of filing false corporate tax returns for Chrisleys company.

“If you lie, cheat and steal, the justice system will be blind to your fame, fortune and position,” Keri Farley, an FBI special agent in Atlanta, said in a statement.

The Chrisleys can each face up to 30 years in prison. U.S. Judge Eleanor L. Ross of the Northern District of Georgia handed down the conviction on Oct. 6.

“Disappointed with the verdict,” Bruce Howard Morris, a lawyer for Todd Chrisley, wrote in an email on behalf of the couple. “An appeal is planned.”

Mr Tarantino’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Despite the Chrisleys’ self-presentation as self-made businessmen, their wealth depended in large part on fraud, according to the charges against the pair.

For example, they got loans by using a bank statement that said they had $4 million with Merrill Lynch when they didn’t even have an account with the bank, the indictment said. Mr Chrisley instructed his accountant to commit acts that he himself suggested would be “unjust”, and according to the charges, Ms Chrisley repeatedly used glue and tape to falsify documents.

The couple used money from loans for “luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate and travel,” the Justice Department said, while also filing for bankruptcy and walking away on more than $20 million in loans. They failed to pay the IRS on time for tax years 2013 through 2016, the complaint said.

NBC Universal announced last month that “Chrisley Knows Best” had been renewed for a 10th season. The network also said that “Growing Up Chrisley,” a spin-off starring two Chrisley children, Chase and Savannah, had been renewed for a fourth season, and that a new series, “Love Limo,” a dating show hosted by Todd Chrisley, would be early next year.

The release described “Chrisley Knows Best” as the USA Network’s “most-watched current original series”, averaging 1.8 million total viewers.

An NBC Universal spokesperson declined to comment on the verdict or on the company’s plans regarding any of the shows. The second half of season 9 of “Chrisley Knows Best” is still scheduled to air from June 23.

Following a proven American formula, the show portrays a family with traditional values ​​and a homely style of self-expression that happens to be fantastically rich.

in the show trailerChrisley describes himself and his wife as “small country town” people who now live in a “gated neighborhood” outside of Atlanta next to “celebrities.” Their “main house” is 30,000 square feet, they spend at least $300,000 a year on clothes, and Mr. Chrisley makes “millions of dollars a year” — but the Chrisleys still face the same problems as families making $40,000, he says. .

mr. Chrisley plays the controlling and demanding patriarch, the kind of father who responds to his son’s misbehavior by throwing his laptop into the pool. His wife’s role is to respond sarcastically but forgivingly to her husband’s weaknesses.

The Chrisleys join a growing number of reality TV stars who have run into legal trouble.

In 2018, Michael (The Situation) Sorrentino, an actor in MTV’s “Jersey Shore”, became convicted to eight months in prison for violating federal tax laws, and in 2014, Joe and Teresa Giudice, two stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” were convicted to jail after pleading guilty to, among other things, bankruptcy fraud.

Eduardo Medina contributed reporting.