Abigale Lee Miller is the central presence on Lifetime channel’s “Dance Moms,” reality television surrounding the Abby Lee Dance Company, a painful drama of driven pre-teen competitors and hovering mothers and Miller – our next reality star whose bankruptcy truthfulness was found wanting.
Abby Lee Miller’s rise in celebrity status began seven months after filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in December 2010. This court-supervised repayment plan obligated her to truthfully tell the court, every month, what her gross income was, what her expenses were, and deposit all monies earned in a traceable account. She was to make a set payment for a number of years on this plan. But Miller’s fame and fortune caught up.
When Miller’s actual finances were discovered in early 2013, as a result of a bankruptcy judge channel-surfing and spotting her show well before any investigation, she offered to amend her Chapter 11 plan and pay off all if her debts in full. The judge wanted an investigation, as $288,000 in income was disclosed at the February 1, 2013 hearing (link opens a PDF, see page 12) without any explanation. According to the indictment, Miller told the court that income from the reality television show was “volatile” and denied that any contracts for the show existed (link opens a PDF, see #23 on page 9).
Miller really doubled down. Within less than a month after that hearing before the bankruptcy judge, and freshly admonished, she – according to Reuters.com and the indictment – sent an email to a joint partner and her accountant with a subject field stating “LET’S MAKE MONEY AND KEEP ME OUT OF JAIL.” To be clearer, she then told them that they needed to avoid raising any “red flags” and instructed both of them: “DON’T PUT CASH IN THE BANK!!!!” The end result was more investigation, culminating in the October 13, 2015 indictment for 20-counts of bankruptcy fraud for concealing income.
This is an indictment, not in a conviction. But to you or me, if that’s her email, that is evidence of criminal intent.
What did Joe, Teresa and allegedly Abby fail to comprehend? Their core failure was to take not take seriously the obligation to disclose to the court what they owned. No lawyer can correct dishonesty.
The concept of what a person contemplating bankruptcy actually owns is technical and complicated. Being vague and being downright dishonest are recipes for disaster, as the above television stars have realized.
It is natural to resent the fact that what you have worked hard to gain could be jeopardized because of collapsed finances. Our advice is not to let that resentment lead you astray when considering, and filing, bankruptcy.
Sources: IMDB.com, Reuters.com, The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (opens a PDF), WTAE.com