‘Chrisley Knows Best’ reality stars convicted of bank fraud

Chrisley should have known better.

Todd and Julie Chrisley, of “Chrisley Knows Best” fame, were convicted Tuesday of conspiracy to defraud local banks with more than $30 million in fraudulent loans, according to the Atlanta office of US attorney Ryan Buchanan.

The couple were also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and tax evasion. In addition, Julie Chrisley was convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice, while their accountant, Peter Tarantino, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States and intentionally filing false corporate tax returns on behalf of Chrisleys’ company, the US law firm said.

The facts presented during the three-week trial outlined how they fared.

“The jury determined that Todd and Julie Chrisley had committed multiple frauds over the years and that their accountant, Peter Tarantino, filed false corporate tax returns on their behalf,” Buchanan said in a statement. “This agency and our partner agencies will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute white-collar criminals who break the law.”

They committed their crimes before becoming reality TV stars. They filed fake bank statements, audit reports and personal financial statements to the banks, in order to persuade them to lend millions of dollars.

The couple treated themselves to luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate and travel, then repaid the previous loans with a new series of fraudulently obtained loans. While he still owed $20 million, Chrisley filed for bankruptcy and walked away from the entire financial mess.

But the couple didn’t stop there. In 2014, even as Todd Chrisley navigated bankruptcy, his wife made up more false financial documents and lied to real estate agents to rent a luxury home in Los Angeles, the Justice Department said — then refused to pay the rent.

That caused them to be beaten with an eviction case.

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Meanwhile, the eponymous name “Chrisley Knows Best” — which follows the family’s “hijinks and hilarity,” according to the show’s website — took off and made millions, the Justice Department said. And then came the tax evasion, with help from Tarantino.

The Chrisleys created and ran 7C’s Productions, a lending company to maintain their income from the show and whatever they were doing. To escape IRS scrutiny for his back tax bill, they kept all company accounts in the name of Julie Chrisley only. When the IRS caught on to her, they attempted to transfer ownership of the account to Todd Chrisley’s mother.

“Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley and their chartered accountant, Peter Tarantino, have conspired to evade the Chrisleys’ income tax assessment and payment,” James E. Dorsey, IRS-Criminal Investigation special officer, said in the statement. “The Chrisleys and Tarantino knew the law was clear about taxable income and who should file and pay taxes. These convictions should send a clear message, regardless of your fame or notoriety, everyone will be held accountable for paying their fair share of taxes.”

They were charged in 2019.

Jury deliberations began Friday afternoon and reached a verdict Tuesday afternoon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. They will be sentenced on October 6 and face up to 30 years in prison. Todd Chrisley’s attorney Bruce Morris told The Associated Press they are likely to appeal.

Meanwhile, they are out on bail, but with strict restrictions — location surveillance and house arrest that keep them housebound unless they go to work, the doctor or court, WSB-TV reported. And they must notify their probation orders of any spending over $1,000, WSB reported.

“As today’s outcome shows, if you lie, cheat and steal, the justice system will be blind to your fame, fortune and position,” said Keri Farley, FBI Atlanta special agent, in a statement from the Justice Department. “Ultimately, when driven by greed, the verdict of guilty on all counts for these three defendants proves once again that financial crimes don’t pay.”

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