ATLANTA — Todd and Julie Chrisley were driven by greed as they engaged in an extensive bank fraud scheme and then hid their wealth from tax authorities while flaunting their lavish lifestyle, federal prosecutors said, arguing the reality television stars should receive lengthy prison sentences.
The Chrisleys gained fame with their show “Chrisley Knows Best,” which follows their tight-knit, boisterous family. They were found guilty on federal charges in June and are set to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in a hearing that begins Monday and is likely to extend into Tuesday.
Using a process to calculate a sentencing guideline range based on several factors, federal prosecutors determined the upper end of that range is nearly 22 years for Todd Chrisley and about 12 and a half years for Julie Chrisley. The couple should also be ordered to pay restitution, prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
“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.”
The Chrisleys disagree with the government’s guideline calculations.
Todd Chrisley’s lawyers wrote in a filing that he should not face more than nine years in prison and that the judge should sentence him below the lower end of the guidelines. Julie Chrisley’s lawyers wrote that a reasonable sentence for her would be probation with special conditions and no prison time.
The Chrisleys were convicted in June on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion and conspiring to defraud the IRS. Julie Chrisley was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Peter Tarantino, an accountant hired by the couple, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and willfully filing false tax returns. He is set to be sentenced along with the Chrisleys.
Prosecutors have said the couple submitted fake documents to banks and managed to secure more than $30 million in fraudulent loans.
Once that scheme fell apart, they walked away from their responsibility to repay the loans when Todd Chrisley declared bankruptcy. While in bankruptcy, they started their reality show and “flaunted their wealth and lifestyle to the American public,” prosecutors wrote.
When they began making millions from their show, they hid the money from the IRS to avoid paying taxes.
The Chrisleys submitted a false document to a grand jury that was investigating their crimes and then convinced friends and family members to tell lies while testifying under oath during their trial, prosecutors wrote. Neither of them has shown any remorse and they have, instead, blamed others for their own criminal conduct, prosecutors wrote.