If the feds get their way, Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller could see 24-30 months in jail after pleading guilty today to part of her indictment last year on 20 counts of fraud and a new charge of violating currency reporting laws. With her lawyers asking for a maximum of six months behind bars, Miller will be sentenced October 11.
Facing a possible $5 million fine and five years imprisonment on the initial charges, Miller struck a deal with federal prosecutors after talks started over the past few weeks, as Deadline revealed earlier this month. On Monday, Miller pleaded guilty to one count of concealing bankruptcy assets and one count of not reporting an international monetary transaction. “We have all this foreign cash,” a text from Miller was revealed in evidence today. “Need a little money laundering.” Miller supposedly had employees sneak more than $120,000 into U.S. from Australia in their luggage in Ziploc bags.
“Sentencing in this case will occur after the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit resolves United States v. Free, a similar case addressing the issue of sentencing in a ‘zero loss’ bankruptcy,” said Miller’s attorneys in a statement today. “Throughout this case, Miss Miller has taken both the allegations and the proceedings very seriously. This has been a challenging time for Miss Miller. She appreciates the words of encouragement and support from around the world.”
A seemingly impatient Lifetime host appeared this morning before Judge Terrence McVerry in federal court in Pittsburgh for about an hour. Having received six extensions during the past seven months over filing pre-trial motions, the last time Miller was in court was back on November 2. That’s when she pleaded not guilty to the October 14 charges of concealing more than $755,000 in earnings from the Collins Avenue Entertainment-produced Dance Moms — including having payments made to her mother instead of her. At that time, Miller had to put up a $100,000 bond and seek court permission for international travel — which she has been granted. That condition of her bond was continued today, meaning she still needs to get court approval on travel.
As of this morning, Dance Moms is set to return to Lifetime for the second part of its sixth season in the fall — with Miller still starring. Another sign a deal with the feds was in the cards: Miller has master classes lined up up all over the country well into August in locations such as Utah, New York City and the Hamptons.
With more than a week until her final extension on filing response paperwork in the case was due, Miller on June 20 was slammed with a whole new case that threatened her with up to another five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The dance coach allegedly brought more than $10,000 into the country from Australia on August 7, 2014, without the required reporting. Led by Greg Melucci, the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh, the new case was folded into today’s hearing after Miller said last week that she “made the very difficult decision to close the door on this chapter of my life by accepting responsibility for mistakes I have made along the way.”
That investigation into the Dance Moms star’s real finances began almost years ago after the judge in her ongoing but low-wattage bankruptcy case came across the Lifetime show one night on TV. Judge Thomas Agresti questioned why money from the show wasn’t included as a part of the seemingly straightforward bankruptcy, which had Miller claiming an income of $8,899 a month.
Throughout the case, Miller has been represented by Pittsburgh-based attorneys Brandon Verdream and Robert Ridge. Although frequently mentioned in the initial indictment last fall, Collins Avenue was not a defendant in the fraud case.
Kim Lyons contributed to this report.