Reality television couple Todd and Julie Chrisley were sentenced Monday to years in prison, five months after they were found guilty of federal fraud charges and hiding their wealth from tax authorities.
Todd Chrisley was sentenced to 12 years, and Julie Chrisley was sentenced to seven, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The couple, known for their USA Network series “Chrisley Knows Best,” were found guilty in June of fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to defraud the United States by a federal jury in Atlanta. They were accused of conspiring to defraud Atlanta-area banks out of more than $30 million in fraudulent loans in a scheme that went on for years.
Their accountant was also found guilty of tax fraud for filing false corporate tax returns on their behalf, and Julie Chrisley was further found guilty of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
The celebrity couple was accused of submitting false documents to request bank loans and using a production company to hide income from the IRS, all while flaunting their lavish lifestyle on TV.
Prosecutors said that while the Chrisleys were earning millions from their show and other entertainment ventures, they evaded paying Todd’s 2009 delinquent taxes and failed to timely file tax returns from 2013 to 2016.
“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.”
Prosecutors had recommended Todd Chrisley be sentenced to 17.5 to nearly 22 years, and Julie Chrisley to 10 to 12.5 years, saying their “arrogance merits special consideration.”
In the prosecutors' filing for sentencing guidelines, they cited how in 2013 while Todd was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, the Chrisleys filmed a promotional video about their “extravagant lifestyle." In the video, Todd boasted that he makes millions of dollars a year and bragged that, “in a year, we probably spend over $300,000, sometimes more, just on clothing.”
Prosecutors argued "their criminal conduct was driven by greed, not necessity."
Lawyers for the Chrisleys disputed the prosecutors’ sentencing guidelines, arguing the “government has vastly overstated the amounts of loss, restitution and forfeiture.” They claimed that neither of the Chrisleys “purposely sought to inflict the harm upon the banks" and Todd Chrisley intended to repay the bank loans.
Todd Chrisley’s lawyer wrote in court filings that the government failed to produce evidence that he meant to defraud the banks, the loss amount put forth by the government was incorrect and urged for a prison sentence below the guideline range.
Meanwhile, Julie Chrisley’s lawyers claimed she had a minimal role in the conspiracy and asked she receive a sentence of probation, restitution and community service, the Associated Press reported.