EXCLUSIVE: The prospect that Abby Lee Miller might actually end up behind bars for fraud dominated a lot of the Season 7 finale of Dance Moms last night, but today the host got a bit of breathing room.
With less than 48 hours to go before Miller faced sentencing as part of a guilty plea that could see her go to jail for 2 1/2 years, Pittsburgh-based Judge Joy Flowers Conti pushed the hearing off the schedule. “The sentencing scheduled for 2/24/2017 is cancelled,” said the court Wednesday. “The sentencing will be rescheduled by further order of court.” No future date has been given.
No official word yet either whether Dance Moms is coming back for another season, but sources say filming has been underway for several weeks.
The continuance in the contentious, much-delayed case comes after U.S. Attorney’s office asked for it to be punted – for now. “The government respectfully requests the continued sentencing hearing be moved to the earliest available date and time convenient for the court,” said the feds motion from Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Melucci. Unsurprisingly, Miller’s lawyers consented to the request to the court.
Currently traveling back from the UK where she was touring for her dance-instructing business, Miller was expected to be in court in Pittsburgh on Friday. Over the government’s objections, the Dance Moms host earlier this month was granted the right to the international travel from February 16- 21. Conti was also expected to make her sentencing decision either at the February 24 hearing or soon afterwards.
With jail time a real possibility arising from the charges, the sentencing hearing would have seen Miller’s reps Robert Ridge and Brandon Verdream argue in front of the judge as to why their first-time offender client should receive probation and a small fine at most – as they have postulated in previous court filings. On January 20, the government argued its side of the story and hit Miller hard. Dismissing her claims that the not insignificant Dance Moms money she hid from her bankruptcy case was the result of getting famous too fast, Melucci said last month that Miller “intended to cause harm” to her creditors by deliberately misrepresenting income on bankruptcy filings in 2012.
In October 2016, Miller was indicted on 20 counts of fraud and last June a new charge of violating currency reporting laws was added to the case. Miller entered a guilty plea June 27, 2016. She dialed it her fight a bit more at the January 20 hearing, when she said she would halt attempts not to not pay the $120,000 she was accused of illegally sneaking into America from Australia in the summer of 2014. At the same time, the feds ceased their request to enhance Miller’s sentence for the use of minors in not reporting the more that $10,000 she brought into America from Down Under.
In the initial charges, the Dance Moms host was said to have hidden more than $755,000 in earnings from the Lifetime reality series from the courts and the taxman while going through a nearly resolved bankruptcy. As documentation uncovered in the feds’ investigation made clear, Miller even had Dance Moms producers Collins Avenue Productions pay her mother fees that were due to her from the show to fall under the radar of the courts.
And she may have pulled it off until around two years ago, when bankruptcy Judge Thomas Agresti came across Dance Moms on TV one night. While watching the unscripted program, Agresti found himself wondering why cash from the Lifetime series was never a part of the bankruptcy he was overseeing, which had Miller claiming a total income of $8,899 a month. That soon led to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh pursuing the case of the missing money, and the charges against Miller resulted.