The two main stars, Todd and Julie Chrisley, were found guilty on all counts of bank fraud and tax evasion by a federal jury in downtown Atlanta Tuesday. Federal prosecutors accused the couple of faking documents to gain access to more than $30 million in loans from small banks, then filing bankruptcy and walking away from more than $20 million of those loans. They were also accused of actively avoiding taxes by hiding income generated from their reality show.
Sentencing isn’t until Oct. 6, the four-month gap typical for these types of federal white-collar cases. U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross will use sentencing guidelines based in part on the severity of the harm caused by the fraud.
Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor who now runs West Coast Trial Lawyers in Los Angeles, said based on the guidelines, the judge could place each of them in prison for 11 to 14 years each, but Ross has discretion. She could also potentially stagger prison time for the sake of the two school-age children the Chrisleys have in their custody.
The Chrisleys have publicly maintained their innocence since the indictment in 2019 and their attorneys said they plan to appeal. The judge could reduce prison time if the couple takes responsibility for their actions by October, Rahmani said.
“Sometimes reality sets in,” Rahmani said. “It’s time to set aside the narcissism and denial and do what’s right for themselves and the family.”
In the end, he wasn’t surprised by the result of the case because he said the U.S. Department of Justice typically only goes to trial when the case is strong. And in this case, the prosecutors know going after public figures like the Chrisleys could act as a deterrent for others. “Their conduct was pretty egregious,” Rahmani said.
The Chrisleys lived in Atlanta for many years until moving to Nashville in 2016.
In 2014, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” castmates Joe and Teresa Giudice were convicted of mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud by the U.S. Department of Justice. They were raising four daughters so Joe was placed in prison first for 41 months, followed by Teresa for 15 months. The couple eventually divorced.
In the same year, Apollo Nida, the husband of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” castmate Phaedra Parks, received an eight-year sentence from a federal court judge for his four-year scheme involving bank, mail and wire fraud and ID theft of more than 50 individuals to the tune of an estimated $2 million. He was released from prison in 2019 and placed on five years of probation and supervised release. Parks and Nida have since divorced.