Abby Lee Miller, 50, the reality television personality best known for controversial show Dance Moms, has been sentenced to a year in prison on twenty counts of fraud including tax evasion on $755k in earnings and bringing an unreported $120,000 foreign currency into the United States. The exact length of the sentence is 366 day and the Pittsburgh-born was also ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and a $120,000 money judgment.
“A year and a day,” the 50-year-old reality star said about the sentence. “It sounds like a movie title.”
The Lifetime show which has been running since 2011 centers around the training of children into the world of dancing and show business. Its premise is built on both the dance classes offered by Miller and her behind-the-scenes interactions with the kids. Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with some parts filmed in Los Angeles, Dance Moms is mostly filmed at the Abby Lee Dance Company studios owned by Miller. The most controversial aspect of the show has been the choreographer’s harsh approach towards her trainees, which has left many of them in tears.
“I have spent so much time and so much energy making other people’s children stars. I didn’t have any children of my own. These were my kids, I raised them like they were my kids,” the dance instructor once told ABC of her methods.
The show is also known for launching the career of Maddie Ziegler, who rose to fame for starring in the music videos of Australian pop star Sia who discovered her on Dance Moms
In 2010, Miller filed for bankruptcy and it wasn’t before 2013 that the Abby Lee Dance Company made it out of administration. It has now been revealed, though, that between 2012 and 2013, the 50-year-old did not reveal all of her earnings from the television show. Miller pleaded guilty to concealing around $775,000 in income during this period. She was replaced on Dance Moms by Dancing with the Stars’ Cheryl Burke in March.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone,” she told Good Morning America. She tearfully claimed that she did not commit the crimes intentionally and pledged to be a ‘smarter businesswoman’ in the future.
The Pittsburgher was given 43 days to turn herself in and start serving her sentence. She will be allowed to serve the last two months of her sentence in a halfway house.
According to US Weekly, many among the Dance Moms cast and crew were not too disappointed to see their former choreographer go. The magazine has quoted an insider who claims the people involved with the show feel Miller deserves her sentence: “They do not like Abby,” the anonymous source said, “Many actually think she deserves a bigger sentence.”
On the other hand, some students such as Elliana Walmsley expressed her disappointment at Miller’s departure. After hearing the news, Elliana took to Instagram to show her support and express her gratitude for her instructor.
Miller expressed her determination to spend her sentence wisely, with reading, learning Spanish and even writing her next book being high on her agenda. She said she would think of it all as “shooting a movie and we’re on set and I’m there for 10 months and that’s the way it’s going to be.”