On Monday, the former Dance Moms star was officially sentenced to one year and one day in prison for bankruptcy fraud and for not reporting $120,000 worth of Australian currency that she took into the country. In addition to the prison sentence, Abby is required to pay about $160,000 in fines and be on probation for two years after her release from the slammer.
According to TMZ, Abby will be incarcerated in a federal facility near Los Angeles.
In October 2015, a grand jury charged Abby with 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud, concealing assets and making false bankruptcy declarations following an investigation. (You can read all about that here.)
Abby, who is the owner of Abby Lee Dance Co., originally filed for bankruptcy in 2010. The indictment claims that Abby schemed to defraud the court by hiding income from “Dance Moms”, its spin-off shows, and dance instruction and merchandise sales. In total, it’s estimated that Abby concealed about $755,000 in income, while still claiming she was broke.
According to TMZ, Abby, who was known for telling little girls to “save their tears for their pillows”, reportedly “begged the judge for mercy” during her trial and stated that “she had fallen victim to the sudden fame that came when ‘Dance Moms’ took off.”
Last year, Abby pleaded guilty to the charges, in hopes that she would avoid prison time, but her plan obviously did not work.
According to TribLive reporter Ben Schmitt, who live-tweeted the hearing and aftermath, several people were called in as character witnesses to defend Abby, including a dance instructor named Gerald Ross and the mother of a girl who Abby once taught. Other character witnesses for Abby included Denise Pietrusinski and Mindy Stabler, who works at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School.
The TribLive reporter tweeted that, before sentencing, Abby’s lawyers argued that she posed no threat to anyone.
“Ms Miller is not a threat to commit additional crimes,” the lawyer said in court, before asking that Abby receive probation instead of prison time. The prosecutor, according to Ben Schmitt’s tweets, argued that it would “send a bad message” if Abby got off with only probation and did not have to go behind bars.
Abby apologized, telling the judge, “I am very sorry for what I’ve done…my name has been dragged through the mud.”
She then invited the judge to take her dance class (as you do), and stated that she wished she could take the judge out to lunch to explain what happened. The judge declined the offer.
After the judge sentenced Abby to prison, the ‘Dance Moms’ star was told that she could be out of the slammer in 10 months, if she behaves. She is not required to report to prison for 45 days.
Several of Abby’s former ‘Dance Moms’ co-stars attended her sentencing on Monday, but they weren’t all there to show their support for her.
“We’re just here to see what they have to say about it, we’re here to support our taxes, everyone else is paying taxes, she should be paying taxes,” ‘Dance Mom’ Diane Pent told the media outside the courthouse.
Some members of Abby’s troupe did support her though. ‘Dance Mom’ cast member Sarah Hunt, who attended the sentencing, called the situation “heartbreaking.”
To prepare for her sentencing, Abby Lee recently underwent a weight loss surgery. She later agreed that it was an odd time to have a major surgery, but argued that, “there’s no right time. Maybe this is some miraculous way that someone is telling me, ‘Hey, do it now so that whatever happens, maybe you’ll be a little bit healthier. Maybe you’ll be a little more in shape.’ Who knows?’”
Watch Abby Lee talk to reporters after her sentencing in the video below:
— Ben Schmitt (@bencschmitt) May 9, 2017