Todd Chrisley slandered Georgia tax investigator, jury finds

Incarcerated former reality television star hit with $755K verdict
Todd Chrisley outside the federal trial court in Atlanta in 2022. He was found liable Thursday in a civil slander case brought against him by a Georgia Department of Revenue investigator, who was awarded $755,000 by a jury. (Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Todd Chrisley outside the federal trial court in Atlanta in 2022. He was found liable Thursday in a civil slander case brought against him by a Georgia Department of Revenue investigator, who was awarded $755,000 by a jury. (Natrice Miller /

Embattled former reality television star Todd Chrisley has to pay $755,000 to a Georgia Department of Revenue investigator he slandered in podcasts and on social media, a Georgia jury has decided.

Chrisley, a former Atlanta multimillionaire who led the “Chrisley Knows Best” show about his family, was found liable Thursday by eight jurors in a civil case brought against him by Amy Doherty-Heinze. She had a small role in the state’s investigation of the Chrisleys’ taxes, case records show.

The jurors awarded Doherty-Heinze $350,000 in compensatory damages, $170,000 in punitive damages and $235,000 in attorney fees and costs, wrapping an almost weeklong trial in the same federal court in which Chrisley and his wife were found guilty in 2022 of bank fraud and tax evasion.

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Jury says Todd Chrisley defamed GA Revenue agent, awards her $755,000 in damages

The couple are serving prison sentences in the criminal case, in which they were ordered to pay $17.2 million in restitution. They recently settled for $1 million a civil case they brought against a different Georgia Department of Revenue official in relation to the state’s investigation.

Chrisley was not in court for the Doherty-Heinze trial but testified remotely from prison. The jurors found him liable on two claims of libel and slander, and not liable on a third claim of slander.

Leesa Guarnotta, an attorney for Chrisley, said he plans to appeal.

“Although we are pleased the jury recognized that some of Mr. Chrisley’s statements were not defamatory and awarded the plaintiff a fourth of the damages she requested, we are concerned about the state of the First Amendment where such a case could make it to trial in the first place,” Guarnotta said Friday.

Nicole Jennings Wade, an attorney for Doherty-Heinze, said the jurors did a great job.

“Amy is thrilled because this has been hanging over her head for four years now – all these lies,” Jennings Wade told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So she’s absolutely thrilled to be vindicated.”

Doherty-Heinze alleged that Chrisley made more than 20 defamatory statements about her in public posts on his Instagram and Facebook accounts and on his “Chrisley Confessions” podcast in 2020 and 2021. He labeled her a corrupt criminal, she claimed.

Chrisley said Doherty-Heinze illegally used the Georgia Crime Information Center to obtain information about him and his wife and children, and destroyed evidence in the state’s investigation of his taxes, she alleged. He also said that she had enjoyed a trip to Disney World on the taxpayers’ dime, among other things, records show.

In case filings, Chrisley responded that his statements about Doherty-Heinze were factually or substantially true and made in good faith. He claimed he merely repeated information he had received from others within the Georgia Department of Revenue and from documents obtained through open records requests about department staff.

Jennings Wade said the jurors found that all of the statements Chrisley made about Doherty-Heinze were false and defamatory, though they didn’t reach the level of liability in respect to one of the claims. She said Doherty-Heinze doesn’t expect to receive any of the money awarded to her in the case, given Chrisley’s $17.2 million criminal restitution obligation.

“This wasn’t about the money,” Jennings Wade said Friday. “She wanted a jury to say ‘We believe you.’ And they did.”

Case records show that Doherty-Heinze sought millions of dollars in damages against Chrisley.

Chrisley and his wife, Julie Chrisley, were sentenced in late 2022 to 12 and seven years in prison, respectively, in relation to a $36 million bank fraud scheme and federal tax evasion. Their former accountant, Peter Tarantino, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $35,000 for his involvement in the tax evasion.

Federal appellate judges are scheduled to hear arguments in Atlanta on April 19 in the trio’s bid to overturn various aspects of the criminal case.

The Chrisleys’ bank fraud scheme related to 29 loans they received from almost a dozen banks, many of which were community banks in the Atlanta area, records show. The $36 million in loans spanned several years from 2006 and put three banks into receivership, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also claimed the couple, who moved from Atlanta to Nashville, hid the millions of dollars they earned from their television show within one of their companies, so the Internal Revenue Service couldn’t recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid personal taxes.

The Georgia Department of Revenue settled its tax evasion case against the Chrisleys in 2019.