Turns out the Chrisleys should have known better.
Todd and Julie Chrisley, stars of the reality TV show ‘Chrisley Knows Best’, were today sentenced in an Atlanta court to several years in prison for defrauding banks of $30 million and committing a tax fraud.
The phrase marks the latest chapter in the dramatic downfall of the reality TV star couple who once headlined USA Network’s highest-rated original series.
Their show, which revolves around the life of a Georgian real estate tycoon and his wealthy family, was so popular that the United States was planning a spin-off series, and E! was also set to launch a series with them.
But the only streak the Chrisleys will be on now is consecutive years in prison. A federal judge sentenced Todd Chrisley to 12 years plus 16 months probation. His wife, Julie, was sentenced to seven years in prison plus 16 months probation.
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Last June, a jury found the couple guilty of criminal bank fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors said the Chrisleys forged documents to secure $30 million in bank loans which they used to fund their lavish lifestyle. When he was unable to repay the loans, Todd Chrisley declared bankruptcy.
During that bankruptcy, the couple launched their reality show in 2014 and “flaunted their wealth and lifestyle to the American public,” prosecutors said. They also used a film production company to hide millions of dollars from the IRS that they earned from the show.
Calling their actions “15 years of fraud,” prosecutors wrote after the trial: “The Chrisleys built an empire based on the lie that their wealth came from dedication and hard work. The jury’s unanimous verdict sets the record straight: Todd and Julie Chrisley are career con artists who made their living by jumping from one fraudulent scheme to another, lying to banks, harassing salespeople and dodging taxes around every corner.”
To date, the Chrisleys say they have done nothing wrong because someone else had control of their finances.
Todd Chrisley’s lawyers asked the judge to sentence their client to a reduced jail term, noting that he had no serious criminal history and had medical conditions that “would make imprisonment a disproportionate hardness”.
They also submitted letters from friends and business associates that show “a history of good deeds and effort to help others.”
Lawyers for Julie Chrisley argued she had a minimal role in the scheme and was the primary carer for her ailing stepmother. Her lawyers submitted letters from family and friends saying she is “hardworking, unwaveringly selfless, devoted to family and friends, highly respected by all who know her and strong in character”.
But the judge was unmoved, sentencing them within the guidelines range.