In January 2023, Todd Chrisley walked through the doors of the Federal Prison Camp Pensacola in Florida, ready to spend the next 12 years of his life in the correctional facility. A few states away, in Kentucky, his wife Julie made a similar journey when she walked through the doors of the Federal Correctional Institution and Federal Prison Camp Marianna to begin her sentence of seven years. The news of their incarceration had fans and anyone who had seen the Chrisley family at the height of opulence in its reality television show shaking their heads, unable to fathom the couple’s fall from grace following convictions for defrauding banks to support the family’s expensive lifestyle. Since their conviction in July 2022, the couple’s lawyers have worked tirelessly to file appeals seeking to overturn the ruling that sent Todd to Florida and Julie to Kentucky. Until then, Todd and Julie are left with no other choice but to serve their respective sentences. Here is how the Chrisley family patriarch is doing in prison.
Michael Todd Chrisley is an American reality television star who came into the limelight in 2014 when his family’s show “Chrisley Knows Best” premiered on USA Network. Before his long stint on television, Todd was a real estate magnate who had amassed obscene wealth, or at least succeeded in tricking television networks, producers, fans, and the show’s viewers into believing that his real estate holdings had made him and his family extremely wealthy. The Georgia-born real estate tycoon and reality-star-turned-felon grew up in Westminster, South Carolina, and was living with his family in Atlanta until the time of his conviction and incarceration. In 1990, Todd married his first wife Teresa, who was his high school sweetheart, their marriage only lasted six years, but the couple had two children, Lindsie and Kyle. As soon as their divorce was finalized, Todd married Julie, and the couple have three children, Chase, Savannah and Grayson.
“Chrisley Knows Best”
The Chrisley family was a regular albeit wealthier-than-average family living in Atlanta, until it was catapulted to fame by a television show. Todd bore the vision of featuring his family in a reality television series, and brought some producers together. They loved the concept he pitched, and spoke with several networks, nine of the network’s executives who heard the pitch offered to buy the show. The family settled on the USA Network, and got to work filming the first season, which aired in March 2014. The show was well-received, particularly by a younger demographic than the network anticipated, but welcomed readily in efforts to cultivate a loyal and lasting viewer base. Consequently, it was renewed for subsequent seasons immediately – it ran for 10 seasons before ending prematurely in 2023 when the family patriarch and matriarch were jailed.
The show didn’t have a specific premise. Rather, in an effort to enhance its authenticity, it focused on the daily activities and experiences of a flamboyant Todd, extravagant Julie, their children who were regulars in the show, and Todd’s children from his first marriage, who have made occasional appearances over the seasons. Given the number of years for which it has been on television, the four spin-offs it has yielded such as “According to Chrisley,” and its consistent viewership, “Chrisley Knows Best” was a success. However, some critics felt otherwise. For instance, “Entertainment Weekly” and “Variety” accused the producers of recycling storylines from old sitcoms, while hiding behind its “unscripted” label. The show proved the naysayers wrong when it was voted NATPE’s best docusoap, and went head-to-head with Anthony Bourdain for a Critic’s Choice Award.
Charges and Conviction
Todd and Julie’s legal problems began in 2019, when several counts of bank and tax fraud and conspiracy to commit both crimes were brought against the couple. Julie faced additional charges for committing wire fraud, and obstructing justice. In August 2019, a grand jury voted to indict the couple on 12 counts of fraud-related crimes, beginning their continuing battle with the justice system. Although these charges were brought against them in 2019, the crimes they were accused of committing dated back up to 12 years before then.
According to the state of Georgia, the couple lied about taxes that Todd owed to the state, amounting to $500,000. They opened 7C’s Productions, a shell company, and registered it under Julie’s name to escape the Internal Revenue Service – IRS, tax authority – by preventing the authority from seizing the taxes owed by Todd. They piled on to their lies later, when a network purchased their show, by understating the millions they earned, to avoid paying their taxes fully. After their indictment, Todd, Julie and their lawyers rushed to settle with their state, hoping to avoid a trial and possible imprisonment. They paid the taxes they owed to the state of Georgia in full, but nothing could be done to escape the federal charges brought against them for conspiring to evade their federal taxes.
Three years after their indictment, Todd and Julie’s date with fate arrived when they stood trial for their actions. They denied the charges, and Todd took to social media to proclaim his innocence, blaming an employee for stealing from the family, falsifying documents, forging signatures, and issuing threats to prevent other employees from speaking up. His pleas fell on deaf ears, both on social media and in court, where the charges against him were confirmed and he was convicted for defrauding several banks of over $30 million to fund his lavish lifestyle. The court ordered him to present himself to his assigned correctional center in Pensacola. As he pays for his mistakes at the low-security prison, his children have been keeping fans and supporters updated on his state.
Todd and Julie Chrisley have been sentenced to federal prison after being found guilty in a tax evasion case.
Todd will face 12 years in federal prison and Julie will face 7 years.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) November 21, 2022
According to Lindsie
In April this year, Todd’s eldest daughter, Lindsie, appeared in an episode of “The Southern Tea” where she opened up on how her father is doing. According to her, Todd looks great. She joked that he’s not been biting his nails, which are intact and his hair has grayed a little but it’s healthier and looks better. He’s spirited and committed to making his time behind bars count. He has fully embraced the system, its purpose of helping prisoners reform, and the process it takes to that end. Todd has made friends with some of his fellow inmates, and talks about them to his children when they visit. He’s learning from them and approaching reform with a positive attitude. Lindsie’s revelations paint the image of a man who has accepted his fate, at least until his appeal and request for a retrial is granted, an outcome he hopes for, and which he’s looking forward to.
According to Savannah
Savannah tells a more detailed story of Todd’s condition behind bars, which involves finding God, working through difficult moments, loneliness, and being a blessing to others. She agrees with her stepsister’s assessment of Todd’s optimism, and confirms that he’s making the most of his time in the Federal Prison Camp. He’s found a renewed calling to improve his relationship with God, and is working in the prison’s chapel. Savannah feels that the ruling was God’s way of allowing Todd to make a difference in other people’s lives. However, she acknowledges that Todd is struggling, particularly since he hasn’t spoken to Julie since they left Atlanta to serve their respective sentences.
Physically, Todd’s appearance has changed. His hair, which was usually well-done is no longer as radiant. His signature bleached highlights have been replaced with natural gray hair that is uncharacteristic of Todd, according to Savannah. Todd’s aura has changed as well. Savannah reported feeling the presence of Jesus in the room when he last visited Todd, adding that he’s using his renewed faith to change the lives of other inmates. Finally, although he’s in prison, Todd isn’t isolated from the outside world. He has phone and email privileges, which he’s been exploiting fully to keep in touch with his children.
While Todd has found God, made friends, changed the lives of some of his fellow inmates, and settled well into prison life, Julie is struggling and worried. According to Savannah, Julie is concerned that her daughter has put her life on hold to raise her 16-year-old brother, Todd and Julie’s youngest child Grayson, and their adopted 10-year-old daughter Chloe. Furthermore, Julie is lonely and missing Todd, with whom she hasn’t had contact since January. Fortunately, like Todd, Julie is keeping busy, taking classes, and focusing on her health. She is journalling to make sense of her new reality, and keeping in contact with her children through letters.
With no other source of information on how Todd is doing in prison, we rely on his children to keep us updated on the condition of the Chrisley family patriarch. For now, we can only look forward to the appeal, and trust Todd’s optimistic belief that his and his wife’s jail sentences will be suspended or reversed since, after all, Chrisley knows best!