What prison life is like for Todd and Julie Chrisley, the former reality TV stars

Attorneys appeared at Friday hearing on their behalf in Atlanta

Former Atlanta multimillionaires and reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley are “doing as best they can” while behind bars at federal prison facilities plagued with mold and other unhealthy conditions, their daughter says.

Savannah Chrisley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she’s “fearful” about the conditions her parents are living in while they serve 12 and seven-year prison sentences on bank fraud and federal tax evasion charges. She said they have been mistreated in the government’s care.

“Black mold, asbestos, lead-based paint, unclean drinking water,” she said Friday, calling the federal prison system “broken.” “There are maggots in the food. And there’s sexual abuse.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported extensively on dire prison conditions in Georgia; the Chrisleys are held elsewhere.

Savannah Chrisley wouldn’t specify how her parents have been mistreated in prison, but said their plight has opened her eyes to “something so much bigger.” She said she and other family members will fight to change the prison system long after Todd and Julie Chrisley are released from custody.

“When you know better, you do better,” she said. “For that I’m grateful that this has happened to my family.”

Savannah Chrisley spoke to reporters outside the federal appeals court in Atlanta following a hearing in her parents’ case. An attorney for Todd and Julie Chrisley asked a three-judge panel to overturn many of their convictions. A decision will likely take months.

The couple were found guilty in 2022 of a total of 10 charges. Prosecutors said they fraudulently obtained $36 million in bank loans and hid millions of dollars in income from their “Chrisley Knows Best” show to avoid paying federal taxes.

Todd Chrisley was sentenced to 12 years in prison and Julie Chrisley to seven years. Both were ordered to pay $17.2 million in restitution. Their prison sentences began in January 2023. Todd Chrisley, 56, is in a minimum security prison in Pensacola, Florida. Julie Chrisley, 51, is in a prison facility in Lexington, Kentucky.

Savannah Chrisley said she spoke to her parents on Thursday evening and that they watched Friday’s hearing from prison. She said they’re hopeful about their appeals.

“Frankly, what the government said is not true,” she said. “(The hearing) was a step to getting my parents home. Twelve and seven years is just not acceptable. I hope and pray that my parents come home this year.”

Much of the hearing focused on the trial testimony of an IRS officer. Alex Little, the Chrisleys’ lawyer, said the officer lied when she told jurors that the couple still owed taxes. He said prosecutors knew the officer’s testimony was false, and did nothing.

Little said the trial judge should have allowed the Chrisleys’ attorneys to present evidence about what they alleged was a coordinated government effort to mislead the jury.

“Before trial, the Chrisleys had no outstanding tax liability,” he said. “The only thing owing back and forth would have been a credit to the Chrisleys.”

Prosecutor Annalise Peters said the IRS agent didn’t lie and that the Chrisleys still owed taxes at the time of her testimony, for 2010, 2011 and 2016. The couple paid their outstanding debts after trial, Peters said. She said the government did not coach the IRS agent to lie, and that prosecutors only learned after trial that the Chrisleys’ millions of dollars in delinquent taxes had been paid.

“This could not have impacted the jury’s determination in reaching their verdict of guilty,” Peters said. “You can’t pay back the money and undo your crime. The evidence was overwhelming at trial that the Chrisleys had taken a number of steps to evade the IRS.”

Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum said the evidence the Chrisleys relied on to show the government’s alleged wrongdoing “seemed to me like pure speculation.”

An attorney for Peter Tarantino, the couple’s former accountant, also argued for his convictions to be overturned. Tarantino was prosecuted alongside the Chrisleys and wants a new trial, having been found guilty of three tax evasion-related charges, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $35,000.

Tarantino’s attorney, Don Samuel, said Tarantino was prejudiced by the scope of the evidence against the Chrisleys, which “dwarfed” the evidence against him. The couple’s “ostentatious wealth” and “the way they spent money” unfairly reflected on Tarantino, Samuel said.

The trial judge said at sentencing that she couldn’t ignore the Chrisleys’ “egregious greed and flamboyance,” after watching a clip from their television show in which Todd Chrisley boasted about their 30,000-square-foot house north of Atlanta and yearly clothing bill in excess of $300,000.

Peters said the jury deliberated for nearly three days and carefully considered the evidence against each defendant, including that Tarantino told “numerous lies to the IRS.”

Savannah Chrisley said the case has brought members of her family closer together. Her brother, Chase Chrisley, and grandmother, Faye Chrisley, were also at court Friday, as were many supporters.

“We come together as a family,” she said. “We love on each other. We’re all we’ve got.”