UPDATED with not guilty pleas: Chrisley Knows Best stars Todd Chrisley and Julie Chrisley pleaded not guilty in an Atlanta court Wednesday to 12 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and tax-evasion charges. The husband and wife featured on USA Network’s flagship reality series had been indicted on the charges the day before.
The Justice Department said the Chrisleys’ accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also indicted on tax-related offenses. He did not appear in court today.
The AP reported that a magistrate court judge released the Chrisleys on $100,000 unsecured bond but ordered them to surrender their passports, limiting their travel beyond parts of Georgia and Tennessee. Lawyers had asked for the travel permission so the couple could continue filming the reality series, currently in its seventh season, which is set in their hometown of Nashville.
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The family previously lived in Atlanta which is why the case originates from there.
“You know we stand in our faith and we stand for what we know is right,” Todd Chrisley told reporters this afternoon after the hearing, according to the AP. “You know our family will stick together, walk this rope because we know God will take our hand and take us through.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said that “from at least as early as 2007 through approximately 2012, Todd and Julie Chrisley allegedly conspired to defraud numerous banks by providing the banks with false information such as personal financial statements containing false information, and fabricated bank statements when applying for and receiving millions of dollars in loans.”
The DOJ added, “Todd and Julie Chrisley allegedly did not timely file income tax returns for the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 tax years or timely pay federal income taxes for any of those years.”
Read more details of the indictment below.
“Todd and Julie Chrisley are charged not only with defrauding a number of banks by fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans but also with allegedly cheating taxpayers by actively evading paying federal taxes on the money they earned,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said. “Celebrities face the same justice that everyone does. These are serious federal charges, and they will have their day in court.”
On Monday, Todd Chrisley addressed the then-pending charges in an Instagram post, blaming a former employee for the indictments. Before today’s court appearance, the Chrisleys’ attorneys Bruce H. Morris and Stephen Friedberg issued a statement saying: “The allegations contained in the indictment are based on complete falsehoods. The Chrisleys are innocent of all charges.”
Morris and Friedberg followed up with a lengthier statement today:
For quite some time now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has been conducting an investigation of Todd and Julie Chrisley based for the most part on the demonstrably false allegations of a former officer of a company they owned jointly. We saw the results of this effort yesterday—an indictment against Todd, Julie, and their accountant that relies largely if not entirely on emails that we know Todd never sent but rather were fabricated by this former employee.
This individual, identified in the indictment only as “Co-conspirator A,” first approached federal authorities in 2012, claiming he had evidence that Todd had been trying to avoid paying his taxes. What the authorities didn’t know, at least initially, was that he had been fired by the Chrisleys after they discovered he had been falsifying documents, forging their signatures, bugging their home, and intimidating other employees into covering up what amounted to a multi-million-dollar embezzlement scheme. These and many other criminal misdeeds were detailed in a federal RICO suit that the Chrisleys filed against him in 2012. Ironically, it was this lawsuit that sent him to the U.S. Attorney’s office. He wasn’t looking for justice but for revenge and his “evidence” against Todd consisted mainly of falsified documents.
Now, seven years later, the government has granted this individual immunity from prosecution for his own crimes and used his false allegations to bring an indictment against the Chrisley. We have no doubt that if this case ever reaches a courtroom, Todd and Julie will be completely exonerated. But in the meantime, their reputation will be sullied by a shamefully unjustified prosecution based on testimony of a dishonest source who has somehow managed to successfully mislead prosecutors.
USA Network had no comment Tuesday when reached by Deadline.
Here’s Chrisley’s Monday Instagram post addressing the charges:
Chrisley Knows Best follows the lives self-made multimillionaire Georgia real estate investor Todd Chrisley, his wife Julie and their children. USA renewed the series for Season 7 which is now airing. The show also has spawned Growing Up Chrisley, a spinoff featuring the couple’s adult children Chase and Savannah Chrisley that premiered its second season last week. None of Todd and Julie Chrisley’s children is named in the indictment.
Here are the Justice Department’s details of the case, which is being investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation:
From at least as early as 2007 through approximately 2012, Todd and Julie Chrisley allegedly conspired to defraud numerous banks by providing the banks with false information such as personal financial statements containing false information, and fabricated bank statements when applying for and receiving millions of dollars in loans.
After fraudulently obtaining these loans, the Chrisleys allegedly used much of the proceeds for their own personal benefit. In 2014, two years after the alleged bank fraud scheme ended, Todd and Julie Chrisley allegedly used fabricated bank statements and a fabricated credit report that had been physically cut and taped or glued together when applying for and obtaining a lease for a home in California.
Todd Chrisley, 51, and Julie Chrisley, 46, both of Nashville, Tennessee are also charged with conspiring with their Roswell, Georgia-based accountant, Peter Tarantino, 56, of Milton, Georgia to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.
In February 2017, Todd Chrisley publicly claimed on a national radio program “obviously the federal government likes my tax returns because I pay 750,000 to 1 million dollars just about every year so the federal government doesn’t have a problem with my taxes.” However, Todd and Julie Chrisley allegedly did not timely file income tax returns for the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 tax years or timely pay federal income taxes for any of those years.
Instead, the Chrisleys and Tarantino allegedly took steps to obstruct IRS collection efforts, which included hiding income, lying to third parties about their tax returns, and – in Tarantino’s case – lying to FBI and IRS-CI Special Agents.
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