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Todd and Julie Chrisley should each be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, prosecutors say

Beware of these common tax scams
Beware of these common tax scams 02:57

Reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley could be sentenced to more than a decade in prison after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion earlier this year. In a sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors suggested Todd Chrisley receive 17 1/2 to nearly 22 years in prison, and Julie Chrisley be sentenced to 10 to 12 1/2 years in prison. 

Prosecutors argued that the Chrisleys deserve a more severe sentence because evidence shows many of their crimes were more severe than previously believed. They said the couple "engaged in a lengthy conspiracy to defraud community banks out of tens of millions of dollars."

"A message must be sent to the Chrisleys and others that tax evasion is a serious offense, and that wealthy tax cheats who use personal companies to avoid paying taxes will face a substantial prison sentence," the prosecutors said. "Finally, Todd and Julie Chrisley's arrogance merits special consideration."

Celebrities Visit Hallmark's "Home & Family"
Reality TV personalities Julie Chrisley and Todd Chrisley visit Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 18, 2018, in Universal City, California. Paul Archuleta / Getty Images

The prosecutors argued that while "most tax cheaters try to keep a low profile while avoiding detection from the IRS," the Chrisleys did the opposite. 

"In 2013, while Todd was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, the Chrisleys filmed a promotional video for their new reality show about their extravagant lifestyle. In the video, Todd boasted that he 'make[s] millions of dollars a year,' and in another shot where he is standing in his walkin closet in his expansive house, he bragged that 'in a year, we probably spend over $300,000, sometimes more, just on clothing.'"

The couple, who appeared on "Chrisley Knows Best" and several other reality television shows, were indicted on 12 counts, including tax evasion, conspiracy, bank fraud and wire fraud, in 2019. They were found guilty earlier this year.

U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a June 2022 press release that Todd and Julie Chrisley conspired to defraud community banks in the Atlanta area to obtain more than $30 million in personal loans prior to the launch of their first television show in 2014. The Chrisleys and their former business partner submitted false documents to obtain the loans, and then spent the money on cars, clothes, real estate and travel. They used new loans to pay back the old ones, Buchanan said.

Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy and was able to walk away from more than $20 million of the loans. While he claimed he was bankrupt, he and his family were earning millions of dollars from their TV show, according to Buchanan. The Chrisleys were operating a loan-out company, which are usually used by entertainment professionals, and earned money from their show and other entertainment ventures. 

When the IRS asked for information about their bank accounts, they transferred their loan-out company's corporate account to Todd Chrisley's mother in an effort to hide from the IRS. However, Todd Chrisley was still operating the loan-out company behind the scenes, Buchanan said.

The Chrisleys also failed to file tax returns or pay any taxes in the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Buchanan said. While speaking on a radio show, Todd Chrisley claimed he paid $750,000 to $1 million in federal income taxes every year. However, he hadn't paid in years.

The couple's accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also found guilty of conspiring to defraud the IRS and filing two false corporate tax returns on behalf of the Chrisleys' company. On those tax returns, he falsely claimed that their company earned no money and made no distributions in 2015 and 2016. 

In this week's sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said the couple's "crimes cannot be understated." 

"The seriousness of their actions is further underscored by the fact that neither defendant has expressed remorse for their crimes, instead continuing to blame others for their own criminal conduct," they said. "Given the seriousness of the Chrisleys' crimes, a lengthy period of incarceration is warranted."

The Chrisleys' lawyer submitted a memorandum suggesting the sentencing range should be much lower – between 8 and 9 months. CBS News has reached out to their lawyer for further comment and is awaiting response.

Several positive character assessments about the Chrisleys were submitted with their memorandum. 

"Most people don't get the opportunity to see and know the Todd that I do," the family's personal assistant/house manager and former housekeeper Jill Palilla wrote. "They don't know of the kindness he has extended to myself, my family, and others. They don't see him leading his family in prayer at the dinner table each night, they don't see him shed tears of compassion for others that he sees in pain."

"I've always known him to be a caring friend and devoted advocate for everyone," wrote fellow reality star Kandi Burruss-Tucker, who stars on "Real Housewives of Atlanta." "You can see the love he has for his family, but the admirable role that he took on as a caregiver for his granddaughter Chloe represents the essence of who he is outside of the stern but comical persona that people see."

Todd Chrisley's lawyer argued that many people who rely on him "will be severely and negatively impacted when he is sentenced to imprisonment," especially his elderly mother. 

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