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Dance Mom’s Prison Sentence

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2016 | Bankruptcy in the News

Dance Mom Abby Lee Miller is due in court this month to be sentenced for her role in a bankruptcy fraud case. The case began nearly four years ago, when Miller filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming her business made only $8,899 per month.

This misstatement might have gone unnoticed, except that while channel surfing one evening, the bankruptcy judge handling her case happened upon an episode of Lifetime’s “Dance Moms.” The show, which features Miller as the studio owner of Abby Lee Dance Company, appeared suspicious to the judge, especially considering appearance fees from “Dance Moms” and a spinoff, “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” not to mention personal appearance fees, dance sessions and merchandise.

The judge alerted the authorities who investigated and found that Miller had hidden $775,000 in income from the bankruptcy court from “Dance Moms” and other spinoff projects. The investigation also uncovered a plot to violate currency reporting laws by taking $120,000 in foreign currency, packaging the money in plastic bags, and putting it in friends’ luggage to avoid declaring the money to the United States.

Authorities also uncovered emails between Miller and her accountant, revealing that Miller knew what she was doing when she failed to accurately report income to the bankruptcy court. In one email to her accountant, Miller allegedly wrote “LETS MAKE MONEY AND KEEP ME OUT OF JAIL. DON’T PUT CASH IN THE BANK!!!”

This fall, Miller pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud charges. She initially faced up to a $5 million fine and five year prison term. Pursuant to a plea agreement, her attorneys will now be asking for a maximum of six months in prison.

The federal government takes bankruptcy fraud seriously. Special Agent in Charge Scott S. Smith of the FBI, one of the Special Agents working Ms. Miller’s case, stated that “Federal bankruptcy proceedings can be a lifesaver for honest individuals overwhelmed by debt resulting from any number of legitimate reasons, but allegations of fraud and abuse threaten the integrity of the bankruptcy process and the public’s trust in it.”

We have helped borrowers all over New Jersey honestly and ethically declare bankruptcy. Whether you are ready to file or just exploring your options, we can help. During your free consultation, the knowledgeable attorneys of Levitt & Slafkes, P.C. will carefully explain the bankruptcy process so you can make an informed decision about how to best proceed. Contact us today at 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation.