Reality TV Family Charged with $30 Million in Fraud

The federal trial of Todd and Julie Chrisley kicked off on May 16 in Atlanta, Georgia, and is expected to last three to four weeks.

Known for their USA Network reality show, Chrisley Knows Best, the couple is facing criminal bank fraud and tax evasion charges after being accused of submitting falsified documents when applying for rental property and loans.

Todd defended himself on Instagram on Aug. 12 that year, shifting the blame to one of the family’s “trusted employees,” claiming that he had been “stealing” from them.

The reality personality noted that it all started back in 2012 and it involved “all kinds of really bad stuff like creating phony documents, forging our signatures, and threatening other employees with violence if they said anything.”

Keep scrolling for everything to know about the Chrisley family trial.

Who are Todd and Julie Chrisley?

Todd and Julie are the married stars of the eponymous reality series Chrisley Knows Best. The show premiered on USA Network in 2014 and is entering part two of its ninth season in June. It has also been renewed for a tenth season, which is expected to begin later this year.

In addition, Todd hosts and executive produces a speed-dating, match-making series titled Love Limo.

What were Todd and Julie Chrisley indicted for in 2019?

Todd and Julie were indicted on 12 counts of bank and wire fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy in August 2019 after being accused of evading nearly $2 million in state taxes between 2008 and 2016.

Prosecutors also claimed they used their production company, 7 C Production, to hide over $1 million dollar’s worth of their reality TV income from the IRS, and alleged that Todd directed an employee to falsify income and asset documents. The Chrisleys turned themselves in and pleaded not guilty to the charges at the time.

That October, the Georgia Department of Revenue cleared them of their state tax evasion charge, agreeing that the Chrisley Knows Best stars had overpaid in four of those years and owed nothing for the other four. In total, they had a net liability of less than $77,000 in overdue taxes for just one year of incorrect filing.

Why are Todd and Julie Chrisley on trial now?

Although the Georgia Department of Revenue signed a settlement agreement that ended a two-year investigation into the couple’s alleged state tax liabilities, per a press release shared with PEOPLE at the time, Todd and Julie continue to face federal charges for allegedly evading federal taxes during those same years.

“Both face one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, five counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of tax fraud. Julie Chrisley faces additional counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice,” FOX 5 Atlanta reported.

The Chrisleys’ accountant, Peter Tarantino, is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of willfully filing false tax returns. 

When does Todd and Julie Chrisley’s trial begin?

Jury selection for Todd and Julie Chrisley’s trial began on Monday, May 16, followed by opening statements on Tuesday, per The Tennessean. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks in Atlanta, the city where the couple lived when the indictment was filed before they moved to Tennessee.

What was said during the Chrisley trial opening statements?

On May 17, Assistant US Attorney Annalise Peters gave her opening statement, claiming that Todd and Julie submitted false documents exaggerating their wealth to banks to borrow over $30 million that they “burned” on their affluent lifestyle while additionally hiding money from the IRS.

“They made up documents and they lie through their teeth to get whatever they want, whenever they want it,” Peters told the jury, per Insider.

Todd Chrisley’s attorney, Bruce H. Morris, blamed the couple’s former employee, Mark Braddock, for impersonating Todd and committing the fraud behind the couple’s back, reportedly turning on them after he was fired in 2012. Despite Peters deeming Braddock a “fraudster,” she noted that the couple continued the act even after ties with him were cut.

Accountant Tarantino’s attorney said that his client was “in over his head” and unqualified to handle the Chrisleys’ finances — noting that he “failed the CPA exam many times over 20 years,” the outlet reported. Regardless of his lack of qualifications, the attorney noted that Tarantino is not a criminal.

What punishment could Todd and Julie Chrisley face if convicted?

When the Chrisleys were first indicted in 2019, PEOPLE spoke with tax attorney Dawn Delia who explained the consequences the couple could face if convicted of the alleged crimes.

At the time, Delia explained that if the case does go to trial and the jury rules in favor of the government, “the IRS can grab everything that they have to fulfill the debt.” She noted that “the IRS moves [the charges] from administrative to criminal when it’s a very serious case,” which is what they are facing.

She added that “if it does come out that the jury agrees,” Todd and Julie could “could face up to five years in prison for tax evasion” and possibly even more.

While the couple is still facing federal charges for allegedly evading federal taxes, there hasn’t been an update on what’s at stake for them since they were cleared of their state evasion charge in October 2019.

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