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Reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley will be sentenced

ATLANTA (AP) – Todd and Julie Chrisley were driven by greed Federal prosecutors said the reality TV stars should receive lengthy prison terms after they participated in a massive bank fraud scheme and then hid their wealth from the IRS by flaunting their lavish lifestyles, federal prosecutors said.

The Chrisleys rose to fame with their show, Chrisley Knows Best, about their tight-knit, boisterous family. They were convicted of federal charges in June and are to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in a hearing that begins Monday and is likely to last until Tuesday.

Using a process to calculate a sentencing range based on several factors, federal prosecutors determined that the upper end of that range was nearly 22 years for Todd Chrisley and about 12 1/2 years for Julie Chrisley. The couple must also be ordered to pay restitution, prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

“The Chrisleys built an empire based on the lie that their wealth came from dedication and hard work,” prosecutors wrote. “The unanimous jury verdict says it straight: Todd and Julie Chrisley are career fraudsters who make their living by jumping from one fraud scheme to another, lying to banks, pressuring vendors and evading taxes at every turn.”

The Chrisleys disagree with the government’s calculations. Attorneys for Todd Chrisley wrote in a statement that he does not face more than nine years in prison and that the judge should sentence him below the lower limit of the guidelines. Julie Chrisley’s attorneys wrote that 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 found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice.

Peter Tarantino, an accountant employed by the couple, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and willful filing of false tax returns. He should be sentenced along with Chrisley.

Prosecutors said the couple submitted false documents to banks and managed to obtain more than $30 million in fraudulent loans. After that scheme collapsed, they abandoned their responsibility to repay the loans when Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy, they launched their reality TV show and “flaunted their wealth and lifestyle to the American public,” prosecutors wrote. When they started making millions from their show, they hid the money from the IRS to avoid paying taxes.

The Chrisleys presented a false document to a grand jury investigating their crimes, then persuaded friends and family members to lie in sworn testimony during the trial, prosecutors wrote. Neither showed remorse and instead blamed others for their criminal behavior, prosecutors wrote.

“The Chrisleys are unique given the varied and broad scope of their fraud and the degree to which they engaged in fraudulent and obstructive behavior over a long period of time,” prosecutors wrote.

Todd Chrisley’s lawyers wrote in a court filing that the government has never presented any evidence that it intended to defraud any of the banks and that the amount of damages calculated by the government is incorrect. They also noted that the crimes for which he was convicted were committed a long time ago. He has no serious criminal history and has medical conditions that would “make a prison term disproportionately harsh,” they wrote.

His lawyers submitted letters from friends and business associates showing “a history of good deeds and a desire to help others.” People who rely on Chrisley — including his mother and “dozens of people” employed by his television shows — will be harmed while he is in prison, his lawyers wrote.

They urged the judge to sentence him to a prison sentence below the recommended range, followed by supervised release and restitution.

Julie Chrisley’s attorneys wrote in a statement that she had a minimal role in the conspiracy and was not involved in obtaining the loans discussed in the sentencing documents. She has no prior criminal record, is an asset to her community and has “extraordinary family obligations,” her attorneys wrote when they asked for probation, restitution and community service.

Chrisley has three children, including one who is 16, and has full custody of son Todd Chrisley’s 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. Julie Chrisley is the primary caregiver for her ailing mother-in-law, according to the statement. Her lawyers submitted letters from family and friends that show she is “hard-working, selfless, devoted to her family and friends, well-respected by all who know her, and of strong character.”

If the judge sentences both Chrisleys to prison, Julie Chrisley’s attorneys asked that their prison terms be increased so she can remain under supervision until her husband serves time or until their granddaughter turns 18.


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