‘Dance Moms’: Why Was Abby Lee Miller In Prison?

Dance Moms has finally returned to Lifetime following a hiatus that lasted almost two full years. The show premiered back in 2011 and quickly became a hit within the dance community and outside of it. At the show’s center was Abby Lee Miller, dance teacher and owner of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC). But the show came to an abrupt after its seventh season because Miller was sentenced to one year in federal prison. But why was she sent to jail in the first place? Let’s take a look at how Miller came to be in that predicament.

Abby Lee Miller
Abby Lee Miller | Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images


As Dance Moms got more popular with each passing season, Miller’s personal success skyrocketed. In fact, her growing earnings may have had a lot to do with why she ended up in prison. In 2015, Miller was indicted for and charged with hiding $775,000 of her earnings and also having friends travel with $120,000 of her money in their suitcases. This meant that Miller was facing charges for both fraud and customs fraud. Miller remained silent about the charges for some time, but in 2016 the dance teacher pled guilty to bankruptcy fraud, which is a felony.


Sentencing for the dance teacher took a lot longer than anticipated and was rescheduled multiple times. However, the 53-year-old studio owner was finally sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison in May of 2017. However, due to health concerns, which led to Miller discovering that she was suffering from spinal cancer, she was released early from her sentence. Miller now is cancer free and filming episodes of Dance Moms once more.

Power trip

Miller recently opened up about her stint in prison. She has claimed that she suffered abuse at the hands of the prison guards. She even made claims that some of the guards sought her out because they recognized her from TV and wanted to humiliate her. “You give a person power, you give them a gun, a set of keys…they have the right to do whatever they want. Vandalizing your property, spilling drinks all over your clothing for the heck of it, knocking your belongings over, throwing them on the floor. One of the monsters said, ‘You can’t talk to me like you talk to those kids on television.'” the 53-year-old said.

Silver lining

Despite the abuse she suffered in prison, she admits that the other women she met in prison impressed her with their kindness. She stated that her fellow prisoners had far more generosity than the mothers who were on the show with her. “You know, the girls in prison are some of the best people you are ever going to meet, seriously,” she said. “They gave me the shoes off their feet, the clothes off their back- literally. And there’s not one of those dance mothers who would ever do that, not at all. And these were strangers.” Miller candidly told TMZ.


Now that Miller’s no longer behind bars, she’s back to doing what she does best, yelling at children and giving (mostly unsolicited) advice. Her latest piece of advice was for Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who both face jail time for their involvement in a massive college admissions scandal “I think if you just befriend them, and you share your stories with them, then they’ll share their stories with you. And some of them are very interesting,” the notorious dance said of establishing relationships with the other women serving time with.

Catch Miller’s wrath and the latest season of Dance Moms Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.