Abby Lee Miller will be sentenced in May 2017, putting her popular Lifetime show Dance Moms in jeopardy as well as likely derailing her reality TV career. But what, exactly, did Miller do to deserve a possible two and a half years in prison?
20 Counts of Fraud, Concealing Assets, Making False Bankruptcy Declarations
By some measures, Miller’s career came crashing down because a judge was bored one night.
As International Business Times reported in April 2014, Miller filed for bankruptcy in 2010. At the time, the first episode of Dance Moms had yet to air, and Miller was feeling the pinch from “lack of interest” in students at her Pittsburgh studio. What’s worse, she was $400,000 behind in real estate taxes.
— SilviaLily (@Fanslite1) April 8, 2017
Miller’s financial health turned around, and then some, once Dance Moms became a huge hit. Besides royalties from the show, as well as renewed interest in dance studio bringing more feet through the door, Miller started making money through side businesses, spinoff shows, guest appearances, and the like.
Unfortunately, as far as federal bankruptcy court is concerned, Miller continued with her bankruptcy proceedings as if she were still broke.
Miller’s house of lies came crashing down, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in October 2015, thanks to a judge being bored one night.
Judge Thomas Agresti was channel-surfing one night when he recognized Miller’s name on the TV listings. What struck him was the sheer amount of space her name occupied on the listings: ads for Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, ads for The Maniac is Back, and promos for her appearance on American Idol.
“I realized that there’s an awful lot of money coming into this plan, this case, and it hasn’t been disclosed.”
— Azuree Talent Agency (@AzureeTalent) April 5, 2017
What’s more, investigators found that Miller was operating what Deadline calls “shell game,” where she concocted elaborate — and not-so-elaborate — schemes to hide her money from the bankruptcy court. Secret bank accounts, directed payments to third-party vendors, even Miller’s own mother, were all involved in the scam, says said IRS agent Akeia Conner.
“Concealing assets from the Court and not paying taxes is a gross violation of civic duty, and IRS Criminal Investigation will work diligently with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who do so.”
After initially pleading not guilty, Miller worked out a plea agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty on June 27, 2016, according to Forbes.
Sentencing on May 8
Originally, Miller was set to learn her fate at a sentencing hearing on January 20, 2017, but that hearing was postponed until May 8. With the day of sentencing approaching, Miller is understandably nervous about what will happen to her.
As of this writing, it’s not clear how long Miller will be going to prison, or even if she’s going to be locked up at all. She could get some kind of combination of probation and/or house arrest, she could be sentenced the maximum 30 months, or she could get some fraction of that. It will all depend on how the judge rules when that day comes.
— EntertainmentTonight (@etnow) March 30, 2017
A while ago Miller told People that she was afraid of being a victim of sexual assault while in prison.
“I’m afraid of being physically abused or raped. I think the prosecutor [Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci] is trying to make an example out of me.”
Do you believe that Abby Lee Miller deserves to be sentenced to a long prison term?
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]