UPDATE, 7:30 AM: EXCLUSIVE: With plea deal talks in the works, Dance Moms host Abby Lee Miller today was granted a sixth extension in having to reply to her indictment last October on 20 counts of fraud – but the federal judge says this is really the last delay. “NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS OF TIME WILL BE GRANTED,” wrote Judge Terrence McVerry on Wednesday as he again agreed to the request.
Charged with bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets and false bankruptcy declarations, the host of the Lifetime series could end up spending up to five years behind bars and paying out more than $5 million in fines if found guilty. Preliminary plea deal discussions between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Miller’s lawyers are leaning toward the Dance Moms host paying a hefty fine and getting probation but no time in jail, sources say.
“Upon consideration of Defendant Abigale Lee Miller’s Sixth Motion for Extension of Time to File Pretrial Motions, having been informed of the Government’s consent thereto, and finding that sufficient cause exists for the requested extension to allow Defendant’s counsel and the Government to resolve any potential discovery disputes and to enable Defendant’s counsel to make informed decisions concerning the filing of pretrial motions, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED that said Motion is GRANTED,” said McVerry today (read it here).
Having pleaded not guilty to the charges on November 2, Miller and her attorneys now have until June 30 to file the required documents for the possible trial.
PREVIOUS, MAY 31 PM: After five previous extensions to giving a response to her indictment last October on 20 counts of fraud with a possible five years behind bars and $5 million in fines, Dance Moms host Abby Lee Miller today asked for a sixth delay in the case – even though the judge told her last time he was running out of patience. This request on the deadline of what was supposed to be her pretrial motions filing comes as sources close to events suggest a plea deal could be in the making with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the case. While things are far from a solid agreement, the terms of discussion right now are inclined towards seeing Miller paying a big fine and getting probation but escaping jail time.
“Additional time is needed before undersigned counsel will be able to make informed decisions concerning the filing of pretrial motions,” was essentially all Miller’s lawyers Brandon Verdream and Robert Ridge said in Tuesday’s filing request seeking a new deadline of June 30 (read it here). “Undersigned counsel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Melucci have also engaged in a meeting and discussions concerning potential discovery issues, and the parties are attempting to reach an agreement concerning the potential discovery issues,” they added, noting that the fed’s Melucci “consents to this Motion.”
Judge Terrence McVerry has not yet ruled on the request but had said on March 31, when allowing the last extension, that “THE COURT IS NOT INCLINED TO GRANT ANY FURTHER EXTENSIONS.” Whether or not that stands later this week or if other forces are at play is to be seen.
Miller is accused of hiding more than $755,000 in fees and other assets from the Collins Avenue Entertainment-produced and Lifetime broadcast show in her ongoing bankruptcy court proceedings. Miller pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment on November 2 in Pittsburgh.
The deeper investigation into Miller’s finances began after the judge in her seemingly straightforward bankruptcy case saw Dance Moms one night on TV. The judge questioned why money from the show wasn’t included as a part of the on-going bankruptcy and one thing, as they say, led to another and Miller was indicted on October 13, 2o15. Despite being noted several times in the indictment as paying funds for Miller to her mother, third-party vendors and others, Collins Avenue is not named as a defendant in the case.
Miller has said in media interviews that she hasn’t done anything intentionally wrong. The Dance Moms host has stated that she believed that her accountants and attorneys were properly attending to everything after the death of her father, who previously had handled her books.
Having most recently been granted the right by the court to travel in April to meet with her Pittsburgh based attorneys on the matter, Miller has also been busy promoting her upcoming class online since the first part of the sixth season of Dance Moms ended earlier this month:
— Abby Lee Miller (@Abby_Lee_Miller) May 30, 2016
Dance Moms is expected to return to Lifetime for the second part of its sixth season in the fall.