As it turns out, the Chrisleys should have known better.
Todd and Julie Chrisley, stars of the reality TV show “Chrisley Knows Best,” were sentenced today by an Atlanta court to several years in prison for defrauding banks worth $30 million and committing tax fraud.
The sentence marks the latest chapter in the spectacular fall of the reality star couple who once starred in USA Network’s top-rated original series.
Their show, which revolves around the life of a Georgia real estate mogul and his wealthy family, was so popular that the US was planning a spin-off series, and E! would also launch a series with them.
But the only series the Chrisleys will take part in now is consecutive years in prison. A federal judge sentenced Todd Chrisley to 12 years plus 16 months of probation. His wife, Julie, was sentenced to seven years in prison plus 16 months of probation.
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Last June, a jury found the couple guilty of criminal bank fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors said the Chrisleys falsified documents to obtain $30 million in bank loans that they used to fund their lavish lifestyle. When he couldn’t pay back the loans, Todd Chrisley went bankrupt.
During this bankruptcy, the couple began their reality show in 2014 and “showed off their wealth and lifestyle to the American public,” prosecutors said. They also used a movie production company to hide millions of dollars from the IRS they made from the show.
Prosecutors called their actions a “15-year wave of fraud,” prosecutors wrote after the trial: “The Chrisleys built an empire on the lie that their wealth came from dedication and hard work. The jury’s unanimous verdict puts the facts right: Todd and Julie Chrisley are career con artists who have made a living jumping from one fraud scheme to the next, lying to banks, cheating salespeople, and evading taxes at every corner.
To this day, the Chrisleys say they did nothing wrong as someone else was in control of their finances.
Todd Chrisley’s lawyers asked the judge to give their client a reduced sentence, noting that he had no serious criminal history and has medical conditions that would “disproportionately make a prison sentence disproportionate.”
They also submitted letters from friends and business associates showing “a history of good deeds and a desire to help others.”
Julie Chrisley’s lawyers argued that she played a minimal role in the scheme and that she is the primary caretaker of her ailing mother-in-law. Her lawyers sent letters from family and friends saying she is “hardworking, unfailingly selfless, devoted to her family and friend, well respected by all who know her, and of strong character”.
But the judge was unmoved and sentenced them within the guideline.