'Dance Moms' star Abby Lee Miller pleads in bankruptcy case

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Posted: Jun 27, 2016 2:20 PM
'Dance Moms' star Abby Lee Miller pleads in bankruptcy case

PITTSBURGH (AP) — "Dance Moms" star Abby Lee Miller pleaded guilty Monday to bankruptcy fraud and failing to report thousands of dollars in Australian currency she brought into the country.

Miller pleaded guilty to one count of concealing bankruptcy assets and one count of structuring international monetary transactions.

She was charged last fall with illegally trying to hide $775,000 worth of income from the Lifetime network reality show and spinoff projects during her Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Authorities later accused her of dividing more than $120,000 into plastic bags and having others in her group put the bags in their luggage in August 2014, violating a law requiring people to report bringing more than $10,000 worth of foreign currency into the country.

Miller, who remains free on $10,000 unsecured bond, issued a statement last week accepting responsibility for what she called "mistakes." Defense attorney Robert Ridge said in a statement Monday that it had been "a challenging time" and that Miller "appreciates the words of encouragement and support from around the world."

Miller was scheduled for sentencing Oct. 11, though the date could be moved pending the outcome of another, similar bankruptcy case now before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could affect her sentence. Prosecutors said guidelines call for a sentence of 24 to 30 months, but the defense contends that her creditors incurred no loss, meaning the sentence could range from probation to up to six months.

Her reality show "Dance Moms" follows her young students and their involved mothers, who attend practices and performances and openly clash with the brash Miller over her criticism of their daughters. The show is based out of her dance studio in Penn Hills, a Pittsburgh suburb, which is why the charges were filed in Pittsburgh even though Miller now lives in Los Angeles.

The investigation began when a channel-surfing bankruptcy judge saw Miller on TV in December 2012 and figured she had to be making more than the $8,899 in monthly income she was claiming. Authorities said she hid more than $228,000 in income from appearances on "Dance Moms" and a spinoff, "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," and nearly $550,000 more from personal appearances, dance sessions and merchandise.