Dance Moms Star Abby Lee Miller Indicted on Fraud Charges After Allegedly Hiding Thousands from Bankruptcy Court
Investigators found emails from the reality star with the subject line: "LETS MAKE MONEY AND KEEP ME OUT OF JAIL"
A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh indicted Miller, 50, on bankruptcy fraud charges for hiding more than $755,000 in secret accounts after making false claims about her income, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
“Criminal prosecution is appropriate when debtors corrupt the bankruptcy process through deceit and lies before the court,” U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said in a statement on Wednesday.
Miller is charged with bankruptcy fraud, false bankruptcy declarations and concealment of bankruptcy assets. Her lawyer, Robert Ridge, tells PEOPLE that she has not yet entered a plea.
Ridge says that Miller entered into bankruptcy to “save her dance studio” and contends that Miller has paid all of her “creditors” an agreed amount.
“There is no loss to any of her creditors,” Ridge says. “We will review the indictment and respond appropriately.”
According to the 20-count indictment, Miller plotted to defraud the bankruptcy court after filing a petition to reorganize her dance studio in December 2010.
The dance instructor allegedly hid income earned from Dance Moms-related shows, dance sessions and merchandise sales between 2012 and 2013. Miller allegedly hid the more than $755,000 dollars in bank accounts created solely for the purpose of hiding the income.
She even instructed others to hide income from the court, the indictment alleges. Investigators found emails between Miller, her accountant and another partner with the subject line “LETS MAKE MONEY AND KEEP ME OUT OF JAIL,” Reuters reports.
She allegedly wrote, “DON’T PUT CASH IN THE BANK!!!”
Miller, famous for her harsh teaching practices on the show, could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
According to the indictment, a bankruptcy judge grew suspicious of Miller’s claim to be cash-strapped after surfing through television and seeing some of the related shows, Reuters reports.
“I realized there is a lot of money coming into this plan, this case, and it hasn’t been disclosed,” the judge said during a court hearing in 2013, per Reuters.
Miller’s arraignment is set for Nov. 5 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Reuters reports.
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