Todd and Julie Chrisley found guilty of fraud, tax evasion

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In the 2014 pilot episode for USA Network’s “Chrisley Knows Best,” Todd and Julie Chrisley showed off their 30,000 square foot home in an affluent neighborhood north of Atlanta. The couple came from humble beginnings, Todd said, and made their fortunes in real estate.

“In a year, we probably spend $300,000, sometimes more, just on clothes,” Todd said.

But prosecutors say the couple made most of their money through fraudulent means – in the years leading up to their first season, the Chrisleys conspired to defraud banks of more than $30 million in loans, according to a criminal case filed against them in 2019.

A federal jury on Tuesday found the couple guilty of fraud and tax evasion. Julie was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice. She and her husband each face up to 30 years in prison.

Their accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also convicted of several tax crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

“As today’s result shows, when you lie, cheat and steal, justice is blind to your fame, fortune and position,” FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley said in a statement. A press release.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Bruce Morris, one of Todd’s attorneys, said the couple were “disappointed with the verdict” and planned to appeal the decision. Tarantino’s attorneys did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment early Wednesday.

On their long-running reality series, the Chrisleys and their five children entertained viewers with their quirky family dynamics and high jinks. The show highlights their extravagant lifestyle, Todd’s strict work ethic, and authoritarian parenting style.

The show is USA Network’s current most-watched original series, according to its parent company NBCUniversal, and is popular among 18-49 year olds. It was picked up for a 10th season last month, and the ninth season will begin airing on June 23. A spokesperson for the network had no comment.

NBCUniversal also last month renewed a spin-off show on Peacock featuring two of the Chrisley kids for a fourth season and greenlit a new dating show on E! hosted by Todd.

According to prosecutors, the Chrisleys defrauded financial institutions over a period of approximately five years beginning around 2007. On several occasions, the couple presented the banks with false documents, such as “fabricated bank statements listing inflated account balances, personal financial statements containing false information on available funds, false invoices and false audit documents “, say the court records.

In 2007, Todd submitted false papers to Merrill Lynch that showed he had $4 million with the bank, although the Chrisleys didn’t actually have an account at the time, according to court documents.

“As a result of misrepresentations like these, a number of banks granted the conspirators millions of dollars in loans, much of which Todd and Julie Chrisley used for their own personal benefit,” the records add.

The couple used the money to buy designer clothes, real estate and luxury cars and to fund their trips, prosecutors said. They also used the loans to pay off existing debts, according to court records. The Chrisleys filed for bankruptcy in 2012 while pocketing $20 million they received from fraudulently obtained loans, prosecutors said.

Julie continued to produce manufactured documents during their bankruptcy proceedings. In 2014, she presented false financial documents to a real estate agent so she could rent a house in Los Angeles, according to court records.

“The numbers had been physically cut out of a document and then glued or taped to the account statement to make it appear as though the account had sufficient funds on deposit,” the documents say.

The family was evicted from the home in Los Angeles for failing to pay rent, prosecutors said.

Todd and Julie, along with their accountant, began plotting to evade taxes after the family began making millions from their reality show, prosecutors said. Owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS for his 2009 taxes, Todd opened a business account at Julie’s name was called 7C’s Productions. Millions of dollars were deposited into the account to prevent Todd from having to pay the money he owed the government, according to court records.

“All the while, Todd Chrisley ran the loan company behind the scenes and controlled the purse strings of the company,” prosecutors said.

The couple did not file taxes from 2013 to 2016, according to prosecutors. In 2015 and 2016, Tarantino filed tax returns “omitting all information about 7C’s Productions earnings and distributions,” according to court documents, implying that the company did not make a profit in those years. Tarantino was eventually found guilty of filing the false documents.

Tarantino and the Chrisleys will be sentenced on October 6.

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