Appeals Court Tosses Reality TV Star Julie Chrisley’s Prison Sentence

Appeals Court Tosses Reality TV Star Julie Chrisley’s Prison Sentence
Julie Chrisley attends the 2016 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., on June 8, 2016. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT)

A federal appeals court dismissed reality TV star Julie Chrisley’s prison sentence for bank fraud and tax evasion, ordering a lower court to recalculate her sentence.

Ms. Chrisley and her husband Todd Chrisley, who were stars of the reality television show “Chrisley Knows Best,” were convicted in 2022 of conspiring to defraud community banks out of more than $30 million in fraudulent loans, in addition to being found guilty of tax evasion by not disclosing their earnings.

In addition to the Chrisleys, their accountant, Peter Tarantino, also stood trial and was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and falsification of tax documents relating to the couple.

Todd Chrisley’s appeal was rejected by the court. According to one of the couple’s attorneys, Alex Little, the Chrisley family is nonetheless “hopeful for more good news in the future.”

“We’re pleased that the Court agreed that Julie’s sentence was improper, but we’re obviously disappointed that it rejected Todd’s appeal,” Mr. Little stated.

During the trial, prosecutors accused the Chrisleys of submitting false documents to banks in the Atlanta area to obtain fraudulent loans. The loans were then used to fund a lavish lifestyle, including luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate, and travel.

New loans were then taken out to pay off old ones before Mr. Chrisley filed for bankruptcy, leaving more than $20 million in unpaid loans, the prosecution stated.

A subsequent conviction saw Mr. Chrisley sentenced to 12 years in prison, while his wife received a seven-year sentence, in addition to an order for the couple to pay nearly $18 million in restitution.

Other Appeals

The couple’s defense attorneys later appealed after it emerged that an IRS officer lied at the trial when he testified about the couple still owing taxes, with the prosecution failing to correct the wrongful testimony in addition to presenting sufficient evidence to substantiate the prosecution’s claim of tax evasion and bank fraud. The appeal, however, was rejected.

Mr. Tarantino’s lawyer argued that the accountant suffered reputational harm as a result of the joint trial with the Chrisleys. Regardless, a subsequent request for a retrial was denied.

The only error found by the three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals related to the trial judge holding Ms. Chrisley solely responsible for the entire bank fraud scheme starting in 2006, which, according to the panel, was lacking sufficient evidence. Further evidence tying her to fraud starting from 2007, however, was found to be substantiated.

“We must vacate Julie’s sentence so the district court can address the narrow issue of what the proper loss amount attributable to Julie is,” so that her sentence can be recalculated, the appeals panel wrote.

Mr. Chrisley, 56, is currently serving time at a minimum security federal prison in Pensacola, Florida, and is due to be released in September 2032. Ms. Chrisley, 51, is currently serving time at a facility in Lexington, Kentucky, and is due for release in July 2028, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Mr. Tarantino, 61, is being held in a minimum security federal prison in Montgomery, Alabama. He is due to be released in August 2025.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.