Todd and Julie Chrisley turned themselves in on Wednesday for indictments of tax evasion, wire fraud and conspiracy bank fraud
But although the couple is maintaining their innocence in their case, they could potentially face prison time if convicted of the alleged crimes, tax attorney Dawn Delia tells PEOPLE.
“This whole tax situation could have just gone through the IRS,” says Delia who is not involved in the case or familiar with the facts beyond what the indictment alleges. “It didn’t have to go to court, but when the IRS revenue officer couldn’t collect on the tax debt due and found suspicious activity, it got moved on to criminal prosecution. It also didn’t help that it was a high-dollar case. According to the indictment,” she speculated, “it looks like they moved assets, they didn’t report income, they hid income, they did a lot of different things.”
Delia explains that if the case does go “to trial and the jury rules in favor of the government, the IRS can grab everything that they have to fulfill the debt.”
“Also, the federal government can look to their companies and attach their properties in the amount that they owe as well,” she adds.
“In addition, they’re facing criminal charges of tax evasion,” she states. “On the IRS and the tax side of this, according to the indictment, there are a lot of things that they did to evade. The IRS moves it from administrative to criminal when it’s a very serious case. Very few get moved on to this. With that, you have this indictment.”
She says “if it does come out that the jury agrees,” Todd and Julie could “could face up to five years in prison for tax evasion. But, I believe with all these counts it can be more.”
While Delia says it could be years until there is a conclusion in the case, the IRS will continue sending them collection letters.
According to WSBTV Atlanta, the reality stars walked into the courtroom on Wednesday “shackled,” but walked out “vowing to fight.” A judge set an unsecured bond of $100,000 each with travel restrictions. (Todd, 50, and Julie, 46, are allowed to visit California for taping of their reality show as long as they notify probation officers.)
“We stand in our faith, and we stand in what we know is right. We are fortunate to have the counsel that we have and our family will stick together, and we’ll walk this road because we know that the good Lord will hold our hand and take us through,” Todd told local reporters.
“The allegations contained in the indictment are based on complete falsehoods. The Chrisleys are innocent of all charges,” the family’s attorneys, Bruce H. Morris and Stephen Friedberg, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Tuesday.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday, Morris and Friedberg said, “For quite some time now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has been conducting an investigation of Todd and Julie Chrisley based for the most part on the demonstrably false allegations of a former officer of a company they owned jointly. We saw the results of this effort yesterday — an indictment against Todd, Julie, and their accountant that relies largely if not entirely on emails that we know Todd never sent but rather were fabricated …”
They added that they believed a former employee was making the allegations in retaliation for “a federal RICO suit that the Chrisleys filed against him in 2012. Ironically, it was this lawsuit that sent him to the U.S. Attorney’s office. He wasn’t looking for justice but for revenge …” (Court records indicate that Julie Chrisley filed a federal RICO lawsuit in 2012 against an executive of Chrisley Asset Management. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by the court.) “Now, seven years later, the government has granted this individual immunity from prosecution … to bring an indictment against the Chrisleys.”
The attorneys said in their statement, “We have no doubt that if this case ever reaches a courtroom, Todd and Julie will be completely exonerated. But in the meantime, their reputation will be sullied by a shamefully unjustified prosecution,” they concluded.
Hours prior to the appearance, Todd and Julie turned themselves in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation — one day after being hit with a 12-count indictment that spans nine years. The indictment, obtained by PEOPLE, alleges that the Chrisleys participated in tax evasion, wire fraud and conspiracy bank fraud.
In the indictment, prosecutors also claim the Chrisleys used their production company, 7 C Production, to hide their reality TV income from the IRS, and allege that Todd directed an employee to falsify income and asset documents. In addition, the Chrisleys allegedly submitted false documents to banks when applying for loans, including fabricated bank statements listing inflated account balances, personal financial statements containing false information about available funds, false invoices, and false audit paperwork.
On Thursday, Todd shared an uplifting statement on Instagram and said that despite the family drama, Chrisley Knows Best has not been canceled.
“Trust and believe that we are holding the right hand of God on this walk we are on, if he brings us to it he will bring us through it. Please don’t fall victim to false prophets , don’t give attention to the attention seekers , stay steady on your course , grieve the loss of ones you love that didn’t love you , pray for them even though they have wronged you , forgive them for yourself and ask God to move them on. We are getting back to work after this distraction and our show hasn’t been cancelled,” he wrote.
“God delivered much clarity yesterday as to those who set a net for us , so the Lord says ‘May the net your enemies cast for you be the same net they become snared in .. To each and everyone that has supported us on this journey we call life , we love you with all of our hearts , the kindness we have been shown yesterday and through this process has been overwhelming , God is good , we drop our hands and surrender to God and will let God do the rest , you can’t claim FAITH and still express FEAR,” said Todd.