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Reality TV star enters guilty plea in fraud case

New York residents may be aware that the reality television celebrity Abby Lee Miller has been accused of hiding assets and making false declarations during her Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The 'Dance Moms" star is alleged to have kept $775,000 of income she earned for her role on the popular Lifetime Channel show away from her creditors. Media sources reported on June 27 that the 50-year-old television personality had entered pleas of guilty to charges that she structured financial transactions to conceal assets.

Miller filed for bankruptcy in 2010 before she shot to reality television stardom. A federal investigation was initiated in 2012 after the bankruptcy judge involved saw a promotional video for 'Dance Moms" and began to doubt that Miller had disclosed all of her assets as required by the bankruptcy code. Prosecutors say that the reality star set up a number of businesses to hide her television income and even handed plastic bags filled with money to members of her entourage in order to circumvent currency laws.

The raft of charges filed against Miller could have seen the television celebrity sent to jail for up to 10 years, but her attorneys expect her to spend no more than six months behind bars after striking a deal with federal prosecutors. Prior to entering into the plea agreement, Miller released a statement in which she accepted responsibility for her behavior and thanked her fans for their support.

This case shows that prosecutors are sometimes willing to consider a plea bargain even when their cases seem strong. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may understand that white-collar crime charges can be difficult to prove, and they may urge prosecutors to settle for less than they had hoped for in return for a quick resolution and to avoid the uncertainties of a jury trial.

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