What’s next? Todd and Julie Chrisley may not have the easiest time appealing their combined 19-year prison sentence, according to legal expert Neama Rhamani.
“I don’t think this appeal has much chance of success,” the CEO of West Coast Trial Lawyers exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, November 22, one day after the Chrisley Knows Best couple received their sentencing. “I understand that they’re blaming their former employee Mark [Braddock], but there’s tons of evidence of things that they did, including what they did for the grand jury, trying to obstruct justice. And the problem with an appeal is you really need to appeal some sort of legal error — a mistake that the judge made. It’s very hard to appeal a question of fact a jury’s finding.”
Rhamani continued: “In this particular case, the jurors thought that it was Todd and Julie who committed this fraud, not their former employee.”
The attorney hinted that Braddock, who worked for Todd’s foreclosure-management businesses until 2012, is likely reliable. “When I was a former federal prosecutor, my two best sources of information were always exes, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and former employees. … They know where the bodies are buried,” Rhamani said.
Us confirmed on Monday, November 21, that Todd, 53, was ordered to 12 years in prison after being convicted on charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and conspiring to defraud the IRS in June. Julie, 49, was sentenced to seven years. The pair will also have to serve 16 months of probation.
Rhamani was “not surprised” by the length of the reality stars’ sentences, claiming Todd and Julie “tried to mislead the court at every turn” throughout their trial. “They first submitted false documents to the grand jury, then they tried to get witnesses to lie under oath and they were convicted of course by that Atlanta jury,” the lawyer told Us. “And instead of accepting responsibility, they doubled down. They gave interviews, they posted on social media claiming they’re innocent. So, I’m not surprised that the judge didn’t cut them a break when they failed to accept any responsibility for the fraud that they’ve committed.”
The TV personalities pleaded not guilty to the charges as their trial kicked off in May. Rhamani, however, argued that there would have been “a significant benefit” to pleading guilty if the couple wanted to reduce their sentences.
“Under federal law, they have to serve 85 percent of their sentence, even if they’re model inmates,” Rhamani told Us. “So, you can get a short amount of time off for good behavior if they’re model inmates, of course, but they’re not gonna get the discount that they might get in certain states where some states actually serve half or even less than that portion of your sentence.”
The real estate mogul and the South Carolina native tied the knot in 1996 and share three children: Chase, 26, Savannah, 25, Grayson, 16. Todd is also the father of Lindsie, 33, and Kyle, 31, whom he shares with ex-wife Teresa Terry.
Despite the duo’s lengthy prison time, their lawyer told Us in a statement on Tuesday that the pair are “optimistic about the road ahead” as they plan their next steps. “Yesterday was a difficult day for the Chrisley family,” attorney Alex Little said. “But Todd and Julie are people of faith, and that faith gives them strength as they appeal their convictions.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi