PITTSBURGH (AP) — "Dance Moms" star Abby Lee Miller pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges related to bankruptcy fraud and money laundering charges.
Channel 11's Aaron Martin reported that Miller pleaded guilty to charges that she did not disclose $675,000 in income despite her Penn Hills dance studio being in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Miller also pleaded guilty to charges that she brought $120,000 to $150,000 worth of Australian currency into the US without declaring it. Prosecutors said the money was smuggled into the US in plastic storage bags.
Two months later, Miller sent a text message to a friend discussing their “foreign cash” and the need for “money laundering.”
Miller issued a statement saying she accepts responsibility for the charges after federal prosecutors added the currency reporting charge last week. Prosecutors said she violated a law in August 2014 that requires people to report bringing more than $10,000 worth of foreign currency into the country.
Miller was first 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.
Miller's emailed statement was relayed through her Pittsburgh-based defense attorney Robert Ridge.
"Events over the past several months have been extremely challenging for me, my family, my friends and most important, my students. Because of this I made the very difficult decision to close the door on this chapter of my life by accepting responsibility for mistakes I have made along the way," the statement said.
"I appreciate all the wonderful messages of support I've received from around the world and look forward to the future and getting back to my life's work; helping young dancers fulfill their potential," Miller's statement concluded.
Miller's publicist, Sheryl Main, said Miller's statement about "this chapter" of her life refers only to the criminal charges, not her work on "Dance Moms."
Miller is known for her outspoken, brash behavior and pursuit of perfectionism from her students. Critics of "Dance Moms" accuse Miller of being emotionally abusive, and many episodes show her students in tears. The show was 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.
The FBI and other agencies eventually determined Miller hid more than $228,000 in income from appearances on "Dance Moms" and a spin-off, "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" and nearly $550,000 more from personal appearances, dance sessions and merchandise sold through her website, www.abbyleedancecompany.com.
A statement released by Miller's attorney following Monday's hearing said that Miller's creditors incurred no loss. She will be sentenced after a similar "zero loss" bankruptcy case is resolved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Prosecutors want Miller to serve 24-30 months in prison, but her defense will push for less than six months.
Sentencing has been tentatively scheduled for October 11.