Todd and Julie Chrisley are on trial for bank fraud and tax evasion.
Their lawyer admitted in court that much of what is said on their reality show is actually not real.
The love between family members, however, is genuine, he said.
In a 2017 radio interview, TV personality Todd Chrisley told a reporter that he pays the federal government more than $1 million a year in taxes, but the reality is that he “don’t hadn’t paid a dime” in years, Assistant US Attorney Annalize Peters said. a federal jury in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Todd and Julie Chrisley, stars of reality TV series ‘Chrisley Knows Best’, face charges of tax evasion and operating a conspiracy to defraud banks to make it look like they were wealthier than they were to live an extravagant lifestyle that they could not afford. The couple deny the charges.
Todd Chrisley’s lawyer says his statement to this reporter in 2017 was just an act. That, like much of what is said on “the reality show,” was not true, attorney Bruce Morris said in his opening statement.
“Some are real, some are not,” he added.
The closeness of the “outrageous” close-knit family is genuine, Morris said, adding that USA Network “loves” the show and just renewed it for a 10th season.
Dressed in a blue suit, Todd Chrisley sat next to Morris at a table in a federal courtroom on Atlanta’s 17th floor. Julie Chrisley sat at a table behind him with her lawyers.
Their two children – Chase and Savannah – watched the trial in the courtroom with members of the public.
“Everything is sizzling”
On an episode of “Chrisley Knows Best,” Todd Chrisley said the family spends around $300,000 a year on clothes.
That, Morris said, was another lie.
“He was bankrupt at the time,” Morris told the 16-person jury on Tuesday. “It’s all part of the sizzle. It’s all part of the show. It’s all part of the act.”
“Chrisley Knows Best” follows the rowdy couple who made a living knocking down houses in Atlanta.
The spin-off show, “Growing Up Chrisley,” which follows couple’s children Chase and Savannah – who were in the courtroom on Tuesday – is in its fourth season.
Like Morris, Julie Chrisley’s lawyer said the family devotion and affection shown on TV was not made up.
Attorney Stephen Friedberg told the jury that Julie Chrisley’s whole life revolved around her family. Friedberg said he called his client Elmer, “because she’s the glue that holds the family together.”
Growing up in Seneca, South Carolina, Julie Chrisley started cleaning offices with her grandmother when she was 12 years old. When she married Todd Chrisley in 1996, she became like a mother to her two children – eventually adopting one of them – before having three of them. theirs, he said.
While selling real estate, she continued to cook all the meals for the family and help the children with any issues they were going through, such as drug addiction or psychiatric disorders, Friedberg told the jury.
When she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2013, she carried on as if “nothing had changed,” Friedberg said.
Prosecutors did not dispute family dynamics in their opening, but rather their family wealth. They said that between 2007 and 2012, just before the Chrisleys first got their show, they created fake documents that made it look like they had a lot more money than they did.
They submitted them to dozens of Atlanta community banks for personal loans, Assistant U.S. Attorney Annalize Peters said.
In total, they took out $30 million in loans, much of which they used to buy luxury cars and designer cars, prosecutors said. Then, in 2012, Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy, forfeiting $20 million in unpaid loans. From then on, the couple — and their accountant — plotted to hide their $6 million in income from the reality show so the IRS couldn’t collect the $500,000 Todd Chrisley owed on his 2009 taxes, prosecutors said.
Morris, however, alleged the fraud was carried out by a vengeful former employee who eventually reported the pair to the FBI.
The federal trial will continue Wednesday with testimony from an IRS agent.
It should last four weeks.
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