Reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley were sentenced Monday to lengthy prison terms after being convicted earlier this year on charges including bank fraud and tax evasion.
U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in Atlanta gave Todd Chrisley 12 years in prison plus 16 months of probation, while Julie Chrisley got seven years behind bars and 16 months of probation, according to The Associated Press.
“The Chrisleys have built an empire based on the lie that their wealth came from dedication and hard work,” prosecutors wrote. “The jury’s unanimous verdict sets the record straight: Todd and Julie Chrisley are career swindlers who have made a living by jumping from one fraud scheme to another, lying to banks, stiffing vendors, and evading taxes at every corner.”
Federal prosecutors had previously said that the couple should each be sentenced to more than ten years in prison.
“A message must be sent to the Chrisleys and others that tax evasion is a serious offense, and that wealthy tax cheats who use personal companies to avoid paying taxes will face a substantial prison sentence,” the prosecutors said. “Finally, Todd and Julie Chrisley’s arrogance merits special consideration.”
The Chrisleys gained fame with their show “Chrisley Knows Best,” which follows their tight-knit, boisterous family. Federal prosecutors said the couple engaged in an extensive bank fraud scheme and then hid their wealth from tax authorities while flaunting their lavish lifestyle.
Todd Chrisley’s attorneys had argued in a court filing that he should not face more than nine years in prison. Julie Chrisley’s lawyers said a reasonable sentence for her would be probation with special conditions and no prison time.
The Chrisleys were convicted in June on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion and conspiring to defraud the IRS. Julie Chrisley was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice. In a podcast episode released shortly after their convictions, Todd Chrisley said the it was a “heartbreaking time” for his family.
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a June 2022 press release that Todd and Julie Chrisley conspired to defraud community banks in the Atlanta area to obtain more than $30 million in personal loans prior to the launch of their first television show in 2014. The Chrisleys and their former business partner submitted false documents to obtain the loans, and then spent the money on cars, clothes, real estate and travel. They used new loans to pay back the old ones, Buchanan said.
Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy and was able to walk away from more than $20 million of the loans. While he claimed he was bankrupt, he and his family were earning millions of dollars from their TV show, according to Buchanan. The Chrisleys were operating a loan-out company, which are usually used by entertainment professionals, and earned money from their show and other entertainment ventures.
When the IRS asked for information about their bank accounts, they transferred their loan-out company’s corporate account to Todd Chrisley’s mother in an effort to hide from the IRS. However, Todd Chrisley was still operating the loan-out company behind the scenes, Buchanan said.
“The Chrisleys are unique given the varied and wide-ranging scope of their fraudulent conduct and the extent to which they engaged in fraud and obstructive behavior for a prolonged period of time,” prosecutors said.
The couple’s accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also found guilty of conspiring to defraud the IRS and filing two false corporate tax returns on behalf of the Chrisleys’ company.
The prosecutors argued that while “most tax cheaters try to keep a low profile while avoiding detection from the IRS,” the Chrisleys did the opposite.
“In 2013, while Todd was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, the Chrisleys filmed a promotional video for their new reality show about their extravagant lifestyle. In the video, Todd boasted that he ‘make[s] millions of dollars a year,’ and in another shot where he is standing in his walk-in closet in his expansive house, he bragged that ‘in a year, we probably spend over $300,000, sometimes more, just on clothing.'”
The Chrisleys have three children together and full custody of the 10-year-old daughter of Todd Chrisley’s son from a prior marriage. One of the couple’s children, Grayson Chrisley, 16, was hospitalized earlier this month after a car accident on Nov. 12.
According to a report from Metropolitan Nashville Police Department that was obtained by CBS News, Grayson Chrisley rear-ended another vehicle on Interstate 65. The driver of the other vehicle suffered injuries but refused to be transported by ambulance at the time of the accident. Chrisley was “unable to recall anything from the accident, possibly due to a head injury,” according to the department. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
Although the crash happened more than a week ago, the accident did not make headlines until this week, when TMZ first reported on it.