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Filing a bankruptcy petition is a lengthy and complex process. Without the experienced eyes of an attorney looking things over, it is easy for the novice petitioner to miss things or exclude information.  Accidentally leaving things out of your petition probably won’t get you jail time but can extend or even dismiss your bankruptcy. When petitioners purposely exclude or omit information is when the bankruptcy court has a real problem forgiving.

Abby Lee Miller of the reality series ‘Dance Moms’ has been indicted on charges of bankruptcy fraud after a bankruptcy court judge came upon her television show and began wondering just how much she was really making. According to the indictment, Miller faces 13 counts of making false bankruptcy declarations, five counts of concealing bankruptcy assets, and two counts of fraud.

In 2012, Miller claimed she was bringing in a monthly income of $8,899 on her Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. She, in fact, was making $15,000 an episode for the original series ‘Dance Moms’ and an additional $25,000 an episode for her spinoff, ‘Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.’ She also excluded the income earned from apparel, merchandise and public events.

Charges against Miller suggest she hid roughly $775,000 of income from the bankruptcy court and her debtors. Miller filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy looking to settle with debtors for less than she owed as well as a lenient repayment schedule. Usually, this is not an issue when the bankruptcy court feels petitioners are honest about their financial situation. However, in Miller’s case, she was seeking to settle the debt she actually could afford to pay.

Each count against Miller can carry a five-year jail sentence. Considering the bad press she is getting over this situation, even if she doesn’t serve any jail time, it may be difficult for her to find work after the dust settles.

Forgetting to include assets or omitting information on a bankruptcy petition, whether by accident or on purpose may seriously impact a person’s life. For individuals looking to file bankruptcy the right way, speaking to a skilled bankruptcy attorney can help.

Source: newsmax.com, “Abby Lee Miller of ‘Dance Moms’ Charged With Hiding Money in Bankruptcy,” Oct. 15, 2015