'Chrisley Knows Best' Stars Found Guilty of Bank Fraud, Tax Evasion

A federal jury in Georgia has found reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud.

The stars of USA Network's Chrisley Knows Best learned of their fate at the end of a three-week trial in Atlanta on Tuesday. Prosecutors said that the former Georgia residents took $30 million in fraudulent bank loans in order to fund their extravagant lifestyle. Both were found guilty on charges of bank fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

Julie Chrisley was also found guilty of wire fraud and obstruction of justice charges, while the couple's accountant Peter Tarantino was convicted on charges related to filing fraudulent tax returns on their behalf.

"As today's outcome shows, when you lie, cheat and steal, justice is blind as to your fame, your fortune, and your position," Keri Farley, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Atlanta field office, said in a statement. "In the end, when driven by greed, the verdict of guilty on all counts for these three defendants proves once again that financial crimes do not pay."

Chrisley Knows Best Fraud Tax Evasion Convictions
Todd and Julie Chrisley of 'Chrisley Knows Best' on Tuesday were convicted on federal tax evasion and bank fraud charges. The married reality TV stars are pictured at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California, on June 18, 2018. Paul Archuleta/Getty

Bruce Morris, attorney for the Chrisleys, told Newsweek that he was "disappointed" in the verdict and was planning to launch an appeal of the decision.

According to U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan and information that prosecutors presented in court, the Chrisleys "conspired to defraud community banks" in the Atlanta area out of $30 million in personal loans before they became reality TV stars. Prosecutors said that the couple submitted false statements and audit reports to banks with the aid of their former business partner.

The couple used the money on "luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate, and travel," according to prosecutors, as well as using new fraudulent loans to pay back debts from their older loans. Todd Chrisley then filed for bankruptcy and the couple "walked away" from $20 million in remaining loans.

Chrisley Knows Best began to air around the same time as the couple's bankruptcy proceedings. Prosecutors said that the Chrisleys "conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service" alongside Tarantino as they made "millions" from the series, paying no taxes between 2013 to 2016 despite Todd Chrisley falsely claiming on a radio show to have paid up to $1 million in taxes per year.

Julie Chrisley was accused of forging financial documents in order to secure a luxury rental house in Los Angeles as the bankruptcy was moving forward. After securing a lease, the Chrisleys then allegedly failed to pay their rent and were eventually evicted.

The Chrisleys were first indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2019, while a new indictment was filed this February. In October 2019, they were cleared of evading $2 million in Georgia state taxes.

District Judge Eleanor Ross allowed the couple to remain free on bond after the conviction was read on Tuesday, with restrictions that included home detention and location monitoring, according to NBC-owned WMAQ in Chicago. Tarantino also remains free on bond.

The couple are expected back in court for a sentencing hearing on the morning of October 6, when they could face penalties that include up to 30 years in prison.