Todd and Julie Chrisley have been sentenced to 12 and seven years, respectively, in federal prison after a jury convicted them of bank and tax fraud offenses following a nearly three-week jury trial.
“Over the course of a decade, the defendants defrauded banks out of tens of millions of dollars while evading payment of their federal income taxes” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Their lengthy sentences reflect the magnitude of their criminal scheme and should serve as a warning to others tempted to exploit our nation’s community banking system for unlawful personal gain.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: Todd and Julie Chrisley conspired to defraud community banks in the Atlanta area to obtain more than $36 million in personal loans.
Prosecutors say the Chrisleys, with the help of their former business partner, submitted false bank statements, audit reports, and personal financial statements to Georgia community banks to obtain the loans. The Chrisleys spent the money on luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate, and travel – and used new fraudulent loans to pay back old ones.
After spending all the money, Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy and walked away from more than $20 million of these fraudulently obtained loans.
According to prosecutors, while earning millions from their TV show, Todd and Julie Chrisley, along with their accountant, Peter Tarantino, conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. Throughout the conspiracy, the Chrisleys operated a loan-out company. To evade collection of half a million dollars in delinquent taxes owed by Todd Chrisley, the Chrisleys opened and kept the corporate bank accounts only in Julie Chrisley’s name. But after the IRS requested information about bank accounts in Julie Chrisley’s name, the Chrisleys transferred ownership of the corporate bank account to a relative to further conceal their income from the IRS.
In addition, the Chrisleys failed to file tax returns or pay any taxes for the 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 tax years. As a part of the tax evasion scheme, Tarantino was convicted of filing two false corporate tax returns for the loan-out company, which falsely claimed that the company earned no money and made no distributions in 2015 and 2016.
Prosecutors say the Chrisleys also attempted to obstruct justice before being charged as well as during the trial. After learning of the grand jury investigation, Julie Chrisley submitted a fraudulent document in response to a grand jury subpoena to make it appear that the Chrisleys had not lied to the bank when they transferred ownership of the loan-out company’s bank account to their relative.
“As this sentencing proves, when you lie, cheat, and steal, justice is blind to your fame, fortune, and position,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is proud to work with our law enforcement partners at the IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s office to pursue and prosecute individuals that are driven by greed to evade the law.”
On June 7, a jury convicted the Chrisleys on all counts of a superseding indictment, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit tax evasion. The jury convicted Julie Chrisley of an additional charge of obstruction of justice. Tarantino was also convicted of multiple tax-related violations.
“The Chrisleys defrauded financial institutions and the Federal Government through tax evasion and other fraudulent means in an effort to minimize their tax liability, but project an image of wealth,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “This sentencing serves notice that no matter a person’s celebrity status, there are severe consequences for defrauding the American tax system.”
U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross sentenced the defendants as follows:
· Todd Chrisley, 54, of Brentwood, Tennessee, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
· Julie Chrisley, 49, of Brentwood, Tennessee, has been sentenced to seven years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
· Peter Tarantino, 60, of Alpharetta, Georgia, has been sentenced to three years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
As part of sentencing, the Court ordered both Todd and Julie Chrisley to pay restitution and will determine the exact amount at a later date.
This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas J. Krepp, Annalise K. Peters, Alex R. Sistla, Sekret T. Sneed, Vivieon K. Jones, and Amy Palumbo prosecuted the case.