Todd Chrisley sentenced to 12 years in prison, wife Julie gets 7 for bank fraud, tax evasion

Kate Brumback
The Associated Press

ATLANTA  — Todd and Julie Chrisley have been respectively sentenced to 12 and seven years in prison.

In addition to their prison sentences, Todd and Julie each received an order of 16 months probation from U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in Atlanta, news outlets reported.

Federal prosecutors said the couple was driven by greed as they engaged in an extensive bank fraud scheme and then hid their wealth from tax authorities while flaunting their lavish lifestyle.

The Chrisleys gained fame with their USA Network reality show "Chrisley Knows Best," which follows their tight-knit, boisterous family. They were found guilty on federal charges in June and sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in a hearing that began Monday.

"The Chrisleys have built an empire based on the lie that their wealth came from dedication and hard work,” prosecutors wrote. “The jury’s unanimous verdict sets the record straight: Todd and Julie Chrisley are career swindlers who have made a living by jumping from one fraud scheme to another, lying to banks, stiffing vendors, and evading taxes at every corner."

Todd and Julie Chrisley were found guilty on federal charges of bank fraud and tax evasion in June.

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The Chrisleys disagreed with the government’s guideline calculations. Todd Chrisley’s lawyers wrote in a filing that he should not face more than nine years in prison and that the judge should sentence him below the lower end of the guidelines (the upper range was 22 years, federal prosecutors determined). Julie Chrisley’s lawyers wrote that a reasonable sentence for her would be probation with special conditions and no prison time (the upper range for her was about 12 and a half years).

The Chrisleys were convicted in June on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion and conspiring to defraud the IRS. Julie Chrisley was also convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors have said the couple submitted fake documents to banks and managed to secure more than $30 million in fraudulent loans. Once that scheme fell apart, they walked away from their responsibility to repay the loans when Todd Chrisley declared bankruptcy. While in bankruptcy, they started their reality show and "flaunted their wealth and lifestyle to the American public," prosecutors wrote. When they began making millions from their show, they hid the money from the IRS to avoid paying taxes.

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The couple submitted a false document to a grand jury that was investigating their crimes and then convinced friends and family members to tell lies while testifying under oath during their trial, prosecutors wrote. Neither of them has shown any remorse and they have, instead, blamed others for their own criminal conduct, prosecutors wrote.

Todd Chrisley’s lawyers wrote in a court filing that the government never produced any evidence that he meant to defraud any of the banks and that the loss amount calculated by the government is incorrect. They also noted that the offenses of which he was convicted were committed a long time ago. He has no serious criminal history and has medical conditions that "would make imprisonment disproportionately harsh," they wrote.

His lawyers submitted letters from friends and business associates that show "a history of good deeds and striving to help others." People who rely on Chrisley — including his mother and the “scores of people” employed by his television shows — will be harmed while he’s in prison, his lawyers wrote.

Todd and Julie Chrisley were sentenced in their bank fraud case during a hearing that began Monday.

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Julie Chrisley’s lawyers wrote in a filing that she had a minimal role in the conspiracy and was not involved when the loans discussed in sentencing documents were obtained. She has no prior convictions, is an asset to her community and has "extraordinary family obligations," her lawyers wrote, as they asked for a sentence of probation, restitution and community service.

The Chrisleys have three children together, including 16-year-old son Grayson, who found himself in the hospital after a Nov. 12 car accident, public affairs officer Kristin Mumford of Metropolitan Nashville Police Department confirmed to USA TODAY Monday.

Grayson drove into the back of another vehicle that was sitting in traffic, causing injuries to the driver, the MNPD report stated. The teen was unable to recall details of the accident to police, due to a possible head injury, and was transported to the hospital via ambulance for treatment of his injuries.

The Chrisleys also have full custody of the 10-year-old daughter of Todd Chrisley’s son from a prior marriage. Julie Chrisley is the primary caregiver to her ailing mother-in-law, the filing says.

Her lawyers submitted letters from family and friends that show she is "hard-working, unfailingly selfless, devoted to her family and friend, highly respected by all who know her, and strong of character."

Contributing: Edward Segarra, USA TODAY