PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller has been charged with hiding $775,000 worth of income from the Lifetime network reality show and spinoff projects during her Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Abigale Lee Miller, 50, a Penn Hills native, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets, and false bankruptcy declarations.READ MORE: Fund Helps Train Nurse's Aides For Free
The announcement was made Wednesday by U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.
They say she hid income in 2012 and 2013 from her TV appearances as well as from dance sessions, merchandise and apparel sales.
Back in 2010, Miller filed for bankruptcy, claiming she was submerged in debt as well as property and income taxes, and she was struggling financially.
“This was an individual who had a home here, a home in Florida, four sole proprietorships, and this growing concern of a dance business who then was also not just in negotiations to have a reality TV show but had actually received income and was hiding that from the court,” said Hickton.
According to the indictment, the owner of Abby Lee Dance Company gained favorable terms to restructure her debts by concealing the income.
The indictment says the scheme might not have been uncovered if the bankruptcy judge hadn’t seen her on TV while channel surfing.
“It came to the judge’s attention by watching television where he thought he was dealing with someone who had no income and was trying to make a go that there was evidence that show was vibrant, alive and there were ads for the new season,” said Hickton. “And this caused the inquiry by the court.”
Miller’s bankruptcy and defense attorneys didn’t immediately return calls Wednesday.
In a news release Hickton said, “Criminal prosecution is appropriate when debtors corrupt the bankruptcy process through deceit and lies before the court.”
According to the indictment, after filing a Petition to Reorganize her dance studio in December of 2010, Miller then schemed to defraud the bankruptcy court by concealing income she earned between 2012 and 2013 from her performances on the reality TV show “Dance Moms” and related spinoff TV shows, as well as from Masterclass dance sessions and merchandise and apparel sales.READ MORE: Lawmaker Proposes Constitutional Amendment To Privatize Liquor Stores
The indictment alleges that Miller created bank accounts to hide the income, and instructed others to conceal certain income from the bankruptcy court and Trustee.
It is also alleged that Miller made numerous false declarations in monthly operating reports which did not report certain income or underreported certain other business income.
The indictment further alleges Miller concealed income totaling approximately $755,492.85 from the Trustee and creditors, and gained favorable terms to restructure debt from her fraudulent acts.
People in Miller’s hometown of Penn Hills had mixed reactions to news of the indictment.
“It didn’t surprise me that she was indicted for wrongdoing because I think she has a lot of wrongdoing,” said Marianna Namachar. She’s referring to what she’s seen on of Miller on the TV show.
“She’s in it for the money,” said Namachar. “Personally, if my child were ever treated like some of those kids I’ve seen on that show, they would never step foot back in that place.”
Mary Ondovcik from Penn Hills said: “She puts on kind of a wild show, so I don’t know. It’s just like wow! Look what’s happening now.”
“I think it’s a shame for the community,” said Dennis Lynch of Penn Hills. “However, if she’s done something wrong and the indictment stands, then so be it.”
Neighbors on the street where Miller used to live said they did not know her well and are surprised by the indictment.
Miller has opened another dance studio in Los Angeles; and according to the U.S. Attorney, Miller went from earning $8,000 per episode on “Dance Moms” to $25,000 per episode.
She faces at least five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 or both for each count of the indictment.MORE NEWS: Part II: Billions Of Dollars Of Unemployment Aid Stolen From State Likely Won't Be Recovered