Reality stars Todd and Julie Chrisley, best known for “Chrisley Knows Best,” were convicted last week of bank fraud and tax evasion, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
A jury didn’t believe the Chrisleys’ claim that an ex-business partner, Mark Braddock, actually committed the crimes and framed the reality show family.
“The jury found that Todd and Julie Chrisley committed multiple fraud schemes for several years and their accountant, Peter Tarantino, filed false corporate tax returns on their behalf,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement. “This office and our partner agencies will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute white collar criminals who flout the law.”
Assisting the Chrisleys’ claim that they were framed, former employee Donna Cash testified that Braddock had her send fake financial documents to loan companies and lied about the companies, but said she stopped following his orders when the Chrisleys were about to lose their home, Insider reported.
“I did some bad things but that was one thing I wasn’t going to do,” Cash testified, adding that she called Todd to come back from vacation early so he wouldn’t come home to a foreclosed house.
She further testified that “both Mark and I were lying to [Todd] about everything that was going on.”
The jury wasn’t swayed, instead believing the evidence that showed the Chrisleys had committed the crimes themselves. Buchanan said that before the Chrisleys had their own TV show, they defrauded banks in Atlanta, Georgia, in order to obtain more than $30 million in personal loans. With Braddock’s help, the Chrisleys “submitted false bank statements, audit reports, and personal financial statements to banks to obtain the millions of dollars in fraudulent loans,” the DOJ wrote.
The Chrisleys used the money from the fraudulent loans to live a life of luxury, buying expensive homes, cars, and clothes, according to the DOJ. Once the money was spent, Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy in order to avoid repaying the money.
After filing for bankruptcy and still in bankruptcy proceedings, Julie Chrisley began manufacturing financial documents and lying to real estate agents in order to rent a luxury home in Los Angeles, California, the DOJ said. The family didn’t pay rent and were eventually evicted.
Around this same time, the couple was given their own reality show, in which Todd was presented as a real estate mogul. The couple earned millions from the show, but failed to pay taxes, the DOJ said.
The Chrisleys were found guilty of tax evasion and conspiring to defraud community banks. The couple’s accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also convicted on several charges related to taxes. Julie Chrisley was also convicted of obstruction of justice for submitting a fraudulent document attempting to cover up one of their crimes.
Braddock received immunity for providing evidence against the Chrisleys.