- The prosecution in the fraud trial of Todd and Julie Chrisley rested Thursday.
- The couple, of “Chrisley Knows Best” fame, are accused of committing bank and tax fraud.
- Witnesses testified in Atlanta federal court about their lavish overspending.
Prosecutors in the bank and tax fraud trial of reality star couple Todd and Julie Chrisley rested their case after seven days of testimony.
Witnesses — including bankers, former employees, and a former business partner — were called to testify to an Atlanta federal jury to bolster prosecutors’ contentions that the Chrisleys used of fake financial statements to acquire millions of dollars loans, which they overspent on a lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors allege that in the years before “Chrisleys Knows Best” aired, the couple took out at least $30 million in loans from banks — which they lied to receive — and spent it on a lifestyle they couldn’t afford. When they became famous, earning $6 million in the first three seasons, the couple tried to hide their money from the IRS, prosecutors say.
Each of the Chrisleys, and their accountant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, five counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of tax fraud. Julie Chrisley is also facing one count of wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.
The Chrisley’s accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of willfully filing false tax returns.
They have all denied the charges.
Demanding money they didn’t have
Todd Chrisley ran a successful business, Chrisley Asset Management, which managed and resold foreclosed properties for banks.
The company did especially well during the great
, when Americans were losing their homes at high rates.
Despite this success, with a former accountant estimating the company bringing in about a million a month, the Chrisleys were still overspending on an opulent lifestyle outside of their financial reality, several people who worked at the company testified.
Todd Chrisley’s business partner Mark Braddock and former accountant Alina Clerie testified that his former boss would take money from the business accounts for his personal expenses, leaving nothing there to pay employees or bills.
When they tried to reign in his spending, or denied him distributions from the accounts, which were often far in the hole, Todd Chrisley would throw expletive-filled tantrums, they described.
Clerie said he once called her a “fucking Russian bitch,” when she denied him money from the company account.
Braddock, who testified he had an intimate relationship with Todd Chrisley for about a year and then become like brothers, told the jury he committed fraud on behalf of the Chrisleys and himself.
The former part-owner of Todd Chrisley’s management company, who was granted immunity to testify, said Todd Chrisley would direct him on how significantly to inflate personal financial statements before submitting them to banks for loans.
Banks, thinking he was more wealthy than he was, would give him millions of dollars in loans, which he used on Bentleys, Mercedes, mansions, designer clothes, and flying to and from Los Angeles every four to six weeks for haircuts, Braddock testified.
Braddock said he committed the fraud, in part, because of the intimate feelings he had for Chrisley even after their affair ended.
Braddock and Clerie eventually got so tired of the way Chrisley was running his business that they began an attempt to start their own company without telling Chrisley, they testified.
In July of 2012, Chrisley locked them out of the building and accused them of stealing money from him.
Braddock then turned him in to the FBI and state officials, admitting his own crimes, in search of both protection and vengeance, he testified.
The fraud continued
Todd Chrisley’s defense attorney painted Braddock as “obsessed with Chrisley” and said he was the only one who committed crimes, but prosecutors presented evidence that the Chrisleys fraud continued even after Braddock was out of the picture.
After Braddock’s firing, Julie Chrisley allegedly submitted inflated financial records in an attempt to secure a $13 million a month Los Angeles rental, which they were almost instantly late on paying rent for. Eventually the landlord asked them to leave the property.
Julie Chrisley also sent emails to the “Chrisley Knows Best” production company with a furniture repair estimate on a fake letterhead of a local interior designer who testified that he had never seen the document, and it wasn’t from him.
While the couple’s former accountant Peter Tarantino is also on trial, testimony related to his role in the conspiracy was limited to knowingly lying to investigators about the couple’s taxes, which they hadn’t filed for several years.
Tarantino, prosecutors say, was involved in sending fake tax documents showing high earnings to banks, while submitting taxes showing low earnings to the IRS.
The defense will call its first witnesses Thursday.