With an abundance of fake news flooding the Internet, it can be difficult to separate fact and fiction. The confusion isn’t just in the realm of politics but in entertainment as well. For example, Abby Lee Miller has recently been given a prison sentence, and fake news has run rampant. Instead of focusing on hoaxes and rumors in the Dance Moms’ case, let’s take a look at the facts. To begin, Abby Lee pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud charges and on May 8, 2017, was sentenced to a one-year and one-day prison sentence followed by two years of supervised release. You may read Abigale “Abby” Lee Miller’s indictment for bankruptcy fraud here.
According to the indictment, Abby Lee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 3, 2010, in Pennsylvania. A Pittsburgh native, she is the daughter of dance instructor Maryen Lorrain who owned the Pittsburgh-based Maryen Lorrain Dance Studio. The studio successfully operated before Abby Lee took over in 1995, changed its name, and built an empire. A web archive page from the Abby Lee Dance Company’s faculty page features Miller as an instructor and provides a history of the studio.
By the time Miller filed for bankruptcy in 2010, she listed herself as the owner or sole proprietor of four businesses: the Abby Lee Dance Company, the Maryen Lorrain Dance Studio, the Tight Spot and the Dressing Room. The Abby Lee Dance Company is located in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. On October 13, 2015, Abby Lee was indicted on 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud. She was sentenced to prison on May 9, 2017. In addition to prison, and supervision following release, Miller will repay $40,000 and forfeited $120,000, according to Pittsburgh’s WTAE.
Watch: Abby Lee Talks to Reporters After Receiving Prison Sentence
Abby Lee listed her total liabilities as $356,466.52 and her total assets as $325,528.56, according to case documents. She defined herself as a self-employed dance instructor who earned $8,899 per month. In January 2013, approximately three years following the initial bankruptcy filing, Abby Lee amended the business plan. The bankruptcy court approved the amendment; however, they later determined she had failed to disclose profits, royalties, and income earned from multiple revenue streams. These include her hit show Dance Moms and spin-offs, her MasterClass series and online sales made from the Abby Lee Dance Company. There was additional money earned overseas as well. According to the indictment, Abby Lee failed to disclose various television contracts she had with Lifetime for Dance Moms and its spin-offs. Each time court-required, bankruptcy plans and were amended or changed, Abby Lee failed to disclose the contracts and subsequent income. The bankruptcy reorganization pointed to additional, hidden income, prompting federal charges.
In the indictment, the court stated the following in 2013.
“All of a sudden $288,000 appears in counsel’s bank account, amended plans are filed, 100% to unsecured creditors. But back in December, we went through a plan confirmation hearing and there wasn’t one word about the new contracts and the monies. And if it wasn’t for me channel surfing one night and seeing Abigale Miller’s Ultimate Dance Competition on one of the TV stations, and how the American Idol with judges and Ms. Miller being on TV, and then seeing some ads for The Maniac is Back, I realized that there’s an awful lot of money coming into this plan, this case, and it hasn’t been disclosed.”
As the judge saw advertisements for Abby Lee’s reality show Dance Moms and spin-offs air on television, there was doubt cast on the good will nature of her bankruptcy reorganization. The court quickly realized Miller had failed to disclose her income and had unreported money. The court then determined that this wasn’t a case of accidentally forgetting to recall income here or there. Instead, the court determined that Abby Lee did not act in good faith and devised a scheme to defraud the U.S. government. The court found that Abby Lee Miller failed to disclose her contracts with Lifetime, even though she claimed she never knew about them. They stated she failed to report approximately $755,000 in total, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. To this day, Abby Lee states she never intended to mislead the court or hurt anyone.
Watch: Abby Lee Speaks to Good Morning America After Judge Hands Down Prison Sentence
According to the Good Morning America interview, Abby Lee must report to prison within the next 44 days and will spend at least 10 months in federal prison. Though she’s a Pittsburgh native, she will serve out her sentence in either a West Virginia or California based federal prison.
Miller said while in prison she hopes to spend her time reading and learning how to speak Spanish. When asked if there was anything she would do differently looking back in retrospect, Miller stated she would never have filed for bankruptcy.
Stay tuned as we’ll continue to bring you the latest updates and news regarding this case and let you know when Abby Lee reports to prison.
What do you think about Abby Lee’s prison sentence of one year and one day? Do you think she should go to prison or do you think she should have received probation? Is a prison sentence too harsh? Feel free to leave your comments, thoughts, and opinions in the section below.
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