Reality TV Performer Charged with Defrauding Bankruptcy Court by Hiding Assets and Lying about Income
PITTSBURGH - A reality television performer has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets, and false bankruptcy declarations, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The 20-count indictment, returned on Oct. 13, named Abigale Lee Miller, 50, as the sole defendant.
“Criminal prosecution is appropriate when debtors corrupt the bankruptcy process through deceit and lies before the court,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton.
“Federal bankruptcy proceedings can be a lifesaver for honest individuals overwhelmed by debt resulting from any number of legitimate reasons, but allegations of fraud and abuse threaten the integrity of the bankruptcy process and the public’s trust in it. We take our responsibility to pursue allegations of bankruptcy fraud seriously,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott S. Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Pittsburgh Division.
“Fraud and dishonesty in bankruptcy proceedings undermines the integrity of these important proceedings and especially hurts the creditors and American Taxpayers,” added Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge 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.”
“The investigation of Abigale Lee Miller demonstrates our commitment to identify and prosecute those who commit bankruptcy fraud,” stated Acting Inspector in Charge, David McGinnis, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Pittsburgh Division.
According to the indictment, after filing a Petition to Reorganize her dance studio in December, 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. 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.
The law provides for a total sentence of five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 or both for each count of the indictment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Trustee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.