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Reality stars Todd and Julie Chrisley of Chrisley Knows Best were slapped with a dozen federal charges on Tuesday. Their accountant, Peter Tarantino, has also been charged with financial crimes. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Georgia, the couple was under investigation by the FBI for fraud and other offenses, and officials want to send the message that celebrities are not above the law. But what’s going on and how have the Chrisleys responded?

Todd and Julie Chrisley
‘Chrisley Knows Best’ stars Todd Chrisley, Julie Chrisley | Getty Images/Dennis Leupold/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank

Bank fraud and tax evasion are among the charges

Per the press release from the Department of Justice, the Chrisleys are charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy. Tarantino has been charged with tax-related crimes. The FBI and DOJ allege that between 2007 and 2012, the Chrisleys conspired and falsified information given to banks to obtain millions of dollars in loans. This occurred when the family was still living in Georgia; currently, they reside in Tennessee.

After obtaining the loan funds, they used the money for personal gain, and allegedly created fake bank records and credit reports in the pursuit of trying to lease a house in California. But that’s not all. While Todd Chrisley openly declared on a radio show in 2017 that he pays the federal government (namely, the IRS) almost $1 million dollars each year, the indictment alleges that the couple did not pay taxes for at least four years.

The DOJ statement reads:

“Instead, the Chrisleys and Tarantino allegedly took steps to obstruct IRS collection efforts, which included hiding income, lying to third parties about their tax returns, and – in Tarantino’s case – lying to FBI and IRS-CI Special Agents.”

The case is still under investigation by the FBI and the IRS’s criminal unit. U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak had this to say about the indictment:

“Todd and Julie Chrisley are charged not only with defrauding a number of banks by fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans, but also with allegedly cheating taxpayers by actively evading paying federal taxes on the money they earned. Celebrities face the same justice that everyone does.  These are serious federal charges and they will have their day in court.”

How the Chrisleys responded

The Associated Press reported that the Chrisleys’ TV show has run on USA for seven seasons and includes a spinoff, a canceled talk show, and an ongoing podcast. According to the report, the Chrisleys stated in an Instagram post that the charges are no surprise but the root cause is a dispute with a former “unqualified employee.”

In the post, Todd Chrisley asserts that the employee forged documents and did other illegal things without their knowledge, and they have evidence to prove their innocence. The Chrisleys deny the accusations and said they have done nothing wrong, have nothing to hide, and have nothing to be ashamed of.

The AP also reports that the U.S. Attorney’s office plans on seeking prison time for the Chrisleys. If convicted, they could be facing fines and more than five years for just the tax evasion charges alone. In spite of the potential penalties looming above their heads, the Chrisleys don’t seem to be worried.