Todd and Julie Chrisley Plead Not Guilty to Tax Evasion: 'The Good Lord Will Hold Our Hand'
According to WSBTV Atlanta, the Chrisley Knows Best stars walked into the courtroom “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.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday, the family’s attorneys, Bruce H. Morris and Stephen 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 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.
Prosecutors also claim the Chrisleys also 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.
The couple gained fame when Chrisley Knows Best premiered on USA Network in 2014. Growing Up Chrisley — a spinoff following son Chase, 23, and daughter Savannah, 22 — began airing in April.
The night prior to the indictment, Todd shared a lengthy Instagram statement denying any wrongdoing on behalf of himself and his wife. Instead, he pointed blame at an unidentified ex-employee who he claimed had stolen from his family, created “phony documents” and forged signatures years ago.
“I’ve never talked about this publicly before, but there’s been a cloud hanging over Julie and me and our entire family for the past seven years. It all started back in 2012, when we discovered that a trusted employee of ours had been stealing from us big time,” he began the post.
“As a result, it looks like later this week Julie and I are going to be named in a federal indictment charging us with tax evasion and probably a bunch of other financial crimes as well,” he said.
The patriarch added, “We know we’ve done nothing wrong. … I’m telling you all this now because we have nothing to hide and have done nothing to be ashamed of. Not only do we know we’ve done nothing wrong, but we’ve got a ton of hard evidence and a bunch of corroborating witnesses that proves it.”
Shortly after Todd released the statement, Savannah (who recently got engaged) left a supportive comment.
“Thank you for being YOU! You have and always will be the glue that holds us all together. God has a much bigger plan for all of us and this is just part of it,” she wrote.
The family’s former accountant, Peter Tarantino, is facing the same charges.