ATLANTA — Reality stars Todd and Julie Chrisley were sentenced Monday to lengthy prison terms after being convicted earlier this year of charges including bank fraud and tax evasion.
US District Judge Eleanor Ross in Atlanta gave Todd Chrisley 12 years in prison plus 16 months probation, while Julie Chrisley was given seven years behind bars and 16 months probation, news outlets reported.
The Chrisleys gained fame with their show “Chrisley Knows Best,” which follows their rambunctious and close-knit family. Federal prosecutors said the couple participated in an extensive bank fraud scheme and then hid their wealth from tax authorities while flaunting their lavish lifestyle.
“The Chrisleys have built an empire based on the lie that their wealth comes from dedication and hard work,” prosecutors wrote. “The jury’s unanimous verdict sets the record straight: Todd and Julie Chrisley are professional con artists who have made their living jumping from one fraud scheme to another, lying to banks, ripping off sellers and evading taxes at every turn.”
Julie Chrisley’s lawyers asked for probation
Todd Chrisley’s lawyers had argued in a court filing that he should face no more than nine years in prison. Julie Chrisley’s lawyers said a reasonable sentence for her would be probation with special conditions and no jail time.
The Chrisleys were convicted in June on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the IRS. Julie Chrisley was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors have said the couple sent false 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 filed for bankruptcy. While bankrupt, they started their reality show and “bragged about their wealth and lifestyle to the American public,” prosecutors wrote, later hiding the millions they earned from the show from the IRS.
Forged document presented to grand jury
The Chrisleys also presented a false document to a grand jury investigating their crimes and then convinced friends and family to lie under oath during the trial, prosecutors argued. Neither has shown any remorse and have instead blamed others for their criminal conduct, prosecutors wrote.
“The Chrisleys are unique given the varied and broad scope of their fraudulent conduct and the extent to which they engaged in fraud and obstructive behavior over an extended period of time,” prosecutors said.
Lawyers for Todd Chrisley said in a filing that the government never produced any evidence that he intended to defraud banks and that the amount of the loss calculated was incorrect. They also noted that the crimes were committed a long time ago and said that he has no serious criminal record and has medical conditions that “would make imprisonment disproportionately harsh.”
His lawyers had also submitted letters from friends and business associates showing “a record of good deeds and efforts to help others.” People who trust Chrisley, including her mother and the many people employed on her television shows, will be harmed while she is in prison, they argued.