Todd and Julie Chrisley, a wealthy Southern couple who project a public image as a God-loving, straight-talking husband and wife on the reality TV show “Chrisley Knows Best,” are now facing criminal charges.
This week, a federal grand jury in Atlanta indicted the couple on charges of tax evasion, wire fraud and hiding income from the Internal Revenue Service. The Chrisleys’ accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also indicted on tax-related offenses.
“Todd and Julie Chrisley are charged not only with defrauding a number of banks by fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans, but also with allegedly cheating taxpayers by actively evading paying federal taxes on the money they earned,” Byung J. Pak, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the indictment.
Lawyers for the couple, Bruce H. Morris and Stephen M. Friedberg, denied the allegations laid out in the charges, and said a disgruntled former employee had fabricated documents that led to the indictment.
“We have no doubt that if this case ever reaches a courtroom, Todd and Julie will be completely exonerated,” the lawyers said in a statement. “But in the meantime, their reputation will be sullied by a shamefully unjustified prosecution based on testimony of a dishonest source who has somehow managed to successfully mislead prosecutors.”
On Wednesday, the couple appeared in court and pleaded not guilty, vowing to fight the 12-count indictment. They were released on $100,000 bond.
“We stand in our faith, and we stand in what we know is right,” Todd Chrisley said, according to the Atlanta television station WSBTV. “We are fortunate to have the counsel that we have, and our family will stick together, and we’ll walk this road because we know that the good Lord will hold our hand and take us through.”
According to prosecutors, the couple obtained millions of dollars in loans from about 2007 to 2012 by providing banks with phony personal financial statements and fabricated bank statements.
The Chrisleys did not file income tax returns or pay federal income taxes in a timely way from 2013 to 2016, prosecutors said.
The couple and the accountant, Mr. Tarantino, “allegedly took steps to obstruct I.R.S. collection efforts, which included hiding income, lying to third parties about their tax returns” and, in Mr. Tarantino’s case, lying to F.B.I. and I.R.S. agents, prosecutors said.
Mr. Tarantino did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On the Chrisleys’ show, which debuted in 2014 and has run for several seasons, the family dramatizes the minutiae of their wealthy lives, much as the Kardashians might do if they were blond and lived in a 30,000-square-foot mansion near Atlanta.
Mr. Chrisley, known as “the patriarch of perfection,” has candid discussions with his daughter about her breast implants in one episode. And Ms. Chrisley is the daughter of a Baptist minister, Todd’s business partner, best friend and a “‘super mom’ who does it all,” according to the show’s cast description. Mr. Chrisley’s mother, Faye Chrisley, also stars on the show and is described as “a serious gambler with a rebellious edge.” Episodes also feature a rotating cast of offspring, including Todd and Julie’s children, Savannah, Chase and Grayson, as well as children from Mr. Chrisley’s first marriage.
The series has inspired spinoffs, including a 16-episode show featuring Savannah and Chase’s move to Los Angeles, “Growing Up Chrisley.”
This is not the first time Mr. Chrisley’s off-camera finances have attracted attention. In 2017, WSBTV reported that the couple was under investigation for tax evasion in Georgia and for allegedly claiming legal residency in Florida.
According to the station, it was Todd’s son Kyle, who had been estranged from his father, who noted the discrepancy. “He’s going to say he’s a Florida resident until he goes to jail,” Kyle Chrisley reportedly said. “I mean, honestly.”
Todd Chrisley denied the claims. “Obviously the federal government likes my tax returns because I’ve paid $750,000 to $1 million just about every year, so the federal government doesn’t have a problem with my taxes,” he said in a radio interview.
Kyle said on Facebook on Wednesday that he and his father were no longer estranged and that what he had said in the earlier interview had been “a lie.”
On Monday, Todd Chrisley seemed aware of the impending legal troubles.
“I’ve never talked about this publicly before, but there’s been a cloud hanging over Julie and me and our entire family for the past seven years,” he said on Instagram.
Maintaining the couple’s innocence, Mr. Chrisley said a former employee who had been fired for stealing “big time” was seeking revenge and was blackmailing the family. The employee, who was not named, turned in “phony documents” to the United States attorney’s office “and told them we had committed all kinds of financial crimes,” he said.
“I’m telling you all this now because we have nothing to hide and have done nothing to be ashamed of,” he wrote. “Not only do we know we’ve done nothing wrong, but we’ve got a ton of hard evidence and a bunch of corroborating witnesses that proves it.”
“Anyway, when all is said and done, we trust in God,” he added.
A spokeswoman for USA Network declined to comment.
“Celebrities face the same justice that everyone does,” said Mr. Pak, the United States attorney. “These are serious federal charges and they will have their day in court.”
Kitty Bennett contributed research.