Chrisley should have known better.
Todd and Julie Chrisley, of “Chrisley Knows Best” fame, were convicted Tuesday of conspiring to defraud community banks out of more than $30 million in fraudulent loans, the office of U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan in Atlanta said.
The pair were also found guilty of conspiring to defraud the IRS and tax evasion. Julie Chrisley was in addition convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice, while their accountant, Peter Tarantino, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States and willfully filing false corporate tax returns on behalf of the Chrisleys’ company, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The facts presented during the three-week trial outlined how they did it.
“The jury found that Todd and Julie Chrisley committed multiple fraud schemes for several years and their accountant, Peter Tarantino, filed false corporate tax returns on their behalf,” Buchanan said in a statement. “This office and our partner agencies will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute white collar criminals who flout the law.”
They committed their crimes before becoming reality TV stars. They submitted false bank statements, audit reports and personal financial statements to the banks, persuading them to lend millions of dollars.
The couple treated themselves to luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate and travel, then paid back the previous loans with another batch of fraudulently obtained loans. While still owing $20 million, Chrisley filed for bankruptcy and walked away from the whole financial mess.
But the couple didn’t stop there. In 2014, even as Todd Chrisley navigated the bankruptcy, his wife fabricated more fake financial documents and lied to real estate agents to rent a luxury Los Angeles abode, the Justice Department said — and then refused to pay rent.
That got them slapped with an eviction lawsuit.
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Meanwhile the eponymously named “Chrisley Knows Best” – which follows the family’s “hijinks and hilarity,” according to the show’s website — took off and earned them millions, the Justice Department said. And that’s when the tax evasion came in, with an assist from Tarantino.
The Chrisleys created and ran 7C’s Productions, a loan-out company to hold their income from the show and whatever else they were doing. To escape IRS scrutiny for his delinquent tax bill, they kept all the company accounts solely in Julie Chrisley’s name. Once the IRS was onto her, they tried moving the account’s ownership to Todd Chrisley’s mother.
“Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley and their certified public accountant, Peter Tarantino, conspired to evade the assessment and payment of the Chrisleys’ income taxes,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, in the statement. “The Chrisleys and Tarantino knew the law was clear on taxable income and who is required to file and pay taxes. These convictions should send a clear message regardless of your fame or notoriety, everyone will be held accountable for paying their fair share of taxes.”
They were indicted in 2019.
Jury deliberations began on Friday afternoon, and they arrived at a verdict by Tuesday afternoon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. They are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 6 and face up to 30 years in prison. Todd Chrisley’s attorney Bruce Morris told The Associated Press they will probably appeal.
Meanwhile they are free on bond, though with tight restrictions — location monitoring and home detention that will keep them homebound unless they’re going to work, the doctor or to court, WSB-TV reported. And they have to notify their probation orders of any spending exceeding $1,000, WSB reported.
“As today’s outcome shows, when you lie, cheat and steal, justice is blind as to your fame, your fortune, and your position,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, in the Justice Department’s statement. “In the end, when driven by greed, the verdict of guilty on all counts for these three defendants proves once again that financial crimes do not pay.”