Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison by a federal judge after she was found guilt of bankruptcy fraud. The 50-year-old reality TV star was indicted on 20 counts of fraud after she hid more than $750,000 of her income from the US government and failed to report $120,000 of Australian currency brought into the US.
When asked about her conviction Miller told reporters “live and learn.” She begged Judged Joy Flower Conti for leniency during the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, May 9th. “Dance Moms became a hit and I became the laughing stock of reality TV,” she said. Judge Conti declined Miller’s request for mercy saying “You weren’t truthful, even when you knew you were supposed to tell everything, you still weren’t truthful. Somehow you got caught up in the fame and lost your moral compass. I hope when you get out the stars align for you.”
Miller ran her father’s dance business into the ground as she accrued an incredible amount of debt. She filed for bankruptcy after defaulting on both mortgages for her $240,000 condominium and $96,000 dance studio. She hid more than $750,000 in secret bank accounts from 2012 through 2013. Her bankruptcy judge saw her reality TV series and realized Miller must be making more than the $8,899 declared in her bankruptcy filings. In a statement to the press Miller claims that she intended to pay everyone back, but her problems soon became more complicated than she expected. “I didn’t realize when you apply for bankruptcy it’s like signing up for more homework,” she said.
The unreported income came from contracts for future TV series, personal appearances, dance instruction, and merchandise sales. Miller plead guilty to fraud late last year after being caught in 2015. Judge Coti told Miller that her sentence could have been as high as 40 months in prison with additional fines. The prosecution requested a two year sentence while the defense hoped for a simple probation. Judge Coti seems to have split the difference.
When her time in prison is over next year Miller will still have to pay $160,000 in fines and spend two additional years under court appointed supervision.
Miller announced in March that she would be leaving the highly volatile reality TV show Dance Moms. Critics of the show frequently accused Miller of emotionally abusing her young students with an unrealistic expectation of perfection.