Reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley indicted for tax evasion

Todd and Julie Chrisley, the stars of the reality TV series “Chrisley Knows Best,” were indicted by a federal grand jury in Atlanta on charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, while their accountant Peter Tarantino was also indicted on tax-related charges Tuesday.

Their show, which revolves around the lives of Todd Chrisley, 51, a Georgia real-estate mogul, his wife Julie, 46, along with their family, has run on the USA Network since 2014.

According to prosecutors, starting around 2007 until about 2012, the couple provided multiple banks with personal financial statements containing false information, and fabricated bank statements when applying for and receiving millions of dollars in loans. After receiving the loans, the Chrisleys are accused of using much of the money for their own personal benefit. They are also accused of physically cutting and pasting or taping together fabricated bank statements and a fabricated credit report in 2014 when applying for and getting a lease for a home in California.

The couple also is accused of ensnaring their accountant into a tax fraud scheme. In February 2017, Todd Chrisley publicly claimed on a national radio program, “Obviously the federal government likes my tax returns because I pay $750,000 to $1 million just about every year so the federal government doesn’t have a problem with my taxes.” However, the couple allegedly didn’t timely file their income tax returns for tax years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 tax years on a timely basis or pay their income taxes on time. Instead, the Chrisleys and Tarantino allegedly took steps to obstruct IRS collection efforts, which included hiding income, lying to third parties about their tax returns, and, in Tarantino’s case, lying to FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents.

“Todd and Julie Chrisley are charged not only with defrauding a number of banks by fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans, but also with allegedly cheating taxpayers by actively evading paying federal taxes on the money they earned,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak in a statement. “Celebrities face the same justice that everyone does. These are serious federal charges and they will have their day in court.”

The couple’s attorney denied the charges to the Associated Press. “The allegations contained in the indictment are based on complete falsehoods,” Chrisley attorneys Bruce H. Morris and Stephen Friedberg wrote in an emailed statement to the AP. “The Chrisleys are innocent of all charges.”

A woman who answered the phone at Tarantino’s accounting firm, CPA Tarantino, declined to comment to both the AP and Accounting Today.

Todd Chrisley posted an Instagram message on Monday blaming his problems on a disgruntled employee. “I’ve never talked about this publicly before, but there’s been a cloud hanging over Julie and me and our entire family for the past seven years,” he wrote, according to Fox News. “It all started back in 2012 when we discovered that a trusted employee of ours had been stealing from us big time. I won’t go into details, but it involved all kinds of bad stuff, like creating phony documents, forging our signatures, and threatening other employees with violence if they said anything. We even discovered that he illegally bugged our home. Needless to say, we fired the guy and took him to court — and that’s when the real trouble started. To get revenge, he took a bunch of his phony documents to the U.S. Attorney’s office and told them we had committed all kinds of financial crimes, like tax evasion and bank fraud. That got their attention all right, but once we had a chance to explain who he was and what he’d done to us, they realized it was all a bunch of nonsense and they sent him on his way.”

In the federal indictment, prosecutors noted that Todd Chrisley had earlier discussed his tax compliance with a radio show interviewer, pointing out that he has been a resident for 15 years of Florida, where there are no state income taxes. "And obviously, the federal government likes my tax returns because I pay $750,000 to a million dollars just about every year, so the federal government doesn't have a problem with my taxes," he told "The Domenick Nati Show," which has posted a clip on YouTube.

Separately, the couple’s 23-year-old son Chase Chrisley was reportedly also hit with a tax lien for $16,886 in taxes dating back to 2014.

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