‘Chrisley Knows Best’ stars to be judged in Atlanta

‘Chrisley Knows Best’ stars to be judged in Atlanta

A federal trial for reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley on charges including bank fraud and tax evasion is due to begin Monday in Atlanta.

The trial is underway just days after the E! announced it is moving forward with a new dating series, “Love Limo,” hosted by Todd Chrisley and weeks after the announcement that reality shows “Chrisley Knows Best” and “Growing Up Chrisley” have been renewed on USA Network and E!, respectively.

The Chrisleys were initially indicted in August 2019 and a new indictment was filed in February of this year. Prosecutors allege that the couple presented false documents to banks when applying for loans. Julie Chrisley also filed a false credit report and false bank statements while trying to rent a house in California, and then the couple refused to pay the rent a few months after they started using the house, the indictment says.

The Chrisleys also used a film production company they controlled to hide the income and prevent the IRS from collecting unpaid taxes owed by Todd Chrisley, prosecutors say.

Both Chrisleys are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, five counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and one count of tax fraud. Julie Chrisley is also charged with wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Peter Tarantino, an accountant hired by the Chrisleys, is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of intentionally filing false tax returns. He must stand trial alongside the Chrisleys.

The Chrisleys and Tarantino pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on bail.

US District Judge Eleanor Ross said jury selection will take place on Monday, with opening remarks slated for Tuesday.

“Chrisley Knows Best” follows the tight-knit and turbulent Chrisley family. The series has just been renewed across the US for a 10th season, while the spinoff “Growing Up Chrisley” with Chrisley’s children Chase and Savannah living in Los Angeles has just been renewed for a fourth season.

The family had moved to Tennessee at the time the indictment was filed, but the criminal charges are from when they lived in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, prosecutors said.

Even before the initial indictment was announced in August 2019, Todd Chrisley posted a lengthy statement on Instagram denying any wrongdoing. A former employee who was fired after the Chrisleys discovered in 2012 that he was stealing from them retaliated by bringing false documents to the US Attorney’s office and telling prosecutors that the Chrisleys had committed financial crimes, Chrisley wrote.

Prosecutors said the Chrisleys instructed the former employee to forge documents. The scheme ran from at least 2007 to 2012 and involved sending fake bank and financial statements to financial institutions to obtain millions of dollars in loans, many of which were used for personal benefit, the indictment says. They tried to hide their involvement by falsely claiming they didn’t know their then-employee had produced false documents, the indictment says.

Julie Chrisley sent a fake credit report and bank statements showing far more money than they had in their accounts to a California homeowner in July 2014 while trying to rent a home, the indictment says. A few months after they started using the house, in October 2014, they refused to pay the rent, causing the landlord to threaten them with eviction.

The money the Chrisleys received from their television show went to a company they controlled called 7C’s Productions, but they didn’t report it as income on federal tax returns, prosecutors said. The couple failed to file or pay their federal income tax on time for several years, the indictment says.

Tarantino helped the Chrisleys hide income and lie about their tax returns, telling the IRS that Todd Chrisley didn’t have enough money to pay off a 2009 tax debt, despite money going into his production company and spending on personal groceries, says the indictment. He also filed false corporate tax returns for 7C’s Productions to make it look like the company was not making any money, the indictment says.

After federal agents served a grand jury subpoena at 7C’s Productions in February 2018, Julie Chrisley produced a fraudulent document, the indictment says.

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