Chrisley Defiant in the Face of Tax Charges

The world is about to find out if TV celebrity Todd Chrisley “knows best” about crisis communication. The reality TV star, patriarch of the family portrayed on “Chrisley Knows Best,” has been indicted on tax evasion charges along with his real-life and TV wife, Julie.

Among the charges are allegations that the spouses attempted to hide income from the IRS, including income generated by their TV program. The specific charges include ‘conspiracy, bank fraud, and wire fraud,” according to multiple media accounts.

Also indicted was the Chrisleys’ accountant, Peter Tarantino, who was charged with ‘conspiracy to defraud the United States’ and ‘aiding the filing of a false tax return.’ The media company owns the network that airs the program, NBCUniversal, has chosen not to comment, at least so far. As of this writing, Tarantino has not offered a personal comment on the matter. Chrisley, however, has chosen another response.

Not one to take things like this passively, Chrisley has chosen to fire back publicly, through his legal representation. Attorneys Bruce Morris and Stephen Friedberg told the media: “The allegations contained in the indictment are based on complete falsehoods. The Chrisleys are innocent of all charges…”

In addition to his official legal statement, Todd Chrisley went on social media to categorically deny any wrongdoing. He admitted in the post(s) that he and his wife would be named in a federal indictment for tax evasion as well as “a bunch of other financial crimes.”

In that statement, Chrisley pointed the finger at an unspecified “former employee” who, Chrisley said, was fired when they learned that employee was stealing from them. Chrisley argued that this employee chose to get back at him by taking fake financial documents to the US Attorney. Todd Chrisley went on to say:

“I’m telling you all this now because we have nothing to hide and have done nothing to be ashamed of… Not only do we know we’ve done nothing wrong… we’ve got evidence and witnesses (that) prove it.”

This aggressive public stance could stand the Chrisleys in good stead, especially if they are, indeed, innocent of the charges, or if the US Attorney has a weak case. Their brand may be under some scrutiny, and there will be some people willing to believe the worst. But Chrisley could work this strong position to his advantage.

It will be interesting to see what he chooses to say and do once all the facts of the case are made public.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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