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The past year has proven that if you’re looking for reality show-related controversies, you’d do best to put most of your focus on TLC content. But save a little bit of that attention for Lifetime, where Dance Moms is the little sequined headline-maker that could. The show’s centerpiece, Abby Lee Miller, has just been indicted on charges of fraud and concealing money she earned from the show. Oops.
Miller, whose dance company has been at the head of Dance Moms for the past five seasons, could possibly go to prison for the next five years, with over $5 million in fines, if she ends up getting convicted. (The dreaded 5-5-5- combo.) The charges include bankruptcy fraud, concealment of bankruptcy assets and false bankruptcy declarations, combined with the fact that she was hiding around $755,000 worth of show income from the IRS and other authorities. Each of the fraud charges had a $250,000 fine slapped to it, so she’d need to siphon off her earnings for many more years in order to pay them all off. That’s how math works, right?
As you can imagine, this had a little something to do with bankruptcy. Miller filed for Chapter 11 in 2010 to get her dance studio reorganized and to help with over $400,000 in debt, and it was apparently during this time that she began keeping her true income under cloak and dagger. According to Deadline, the judge in the case happened to catch Dance Moms on TV and wondered just what she was doing with all the money from the show and its offshoots, and then the investigation started. It turns out there were several secret bank accounts and paid-off accountants involved in keeping this charade going.
It’s not clear how any of this will affect Dance Moms Season 6, which apparently just kicked off, according to Miller herself.
This isn’t the first time that Abby Lee Miller has come under fire in the court system. She was sued in 2014 for $5 million by former cast member Kelly Hyland and her family over the bullying manner in which Miller taught Paige Hyland on Dance Moms. Hyland and Miller actually got into a fiught on the show, which was also part of the lawsuit. Those charges were all dropped, though. I can’t assume that the same thing will happen here.
Miller’s arraignment is set for November 5 in a Pittsburgh federal court. To justice prevailing!