Former "Dance Moms" reality TV star Abby Lee Miller says the $120,000 she’s accused of smuggling into the United States was not hers and that “she hasn’t seen it since it's come back.”
“My attorney said if i haven’t seen it in three years, it’s not mine,” Miller said Friday in an interview on the “Wendy Williams Show.”
According to Miller, several dancers from the show, along with their equally famous mothers, were in Australia for a publicity event. She said tickets to attend the “Master Class” conference were purchased electronically online during the registration process, “and that goes straight to a bank.”
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“The moms were out in the lobby area, they are selling the merchandise, taking pictures,” Miller said, noting those transactions were made in cash because they were told “you can’t get a credit card machine in other countries unless you have a bank account in that country, and you rent them from the bank.”
Miller, who was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in prison for bankruptcy fraud and for bringing the Australian currency into the U.S., alleged that she personally was carrying less than $10,000. By law, all travelers carrying in excess of $10,000 must declare it at Customs. Asked if people in her group traveling for the event were carrying money for her, Miller said “that’s debatable.”
“I can show you all the moms’ 1099s for what they made,” Miller said.
The reality star also said she regrets filing for bankruptcy after the 2008 financial crash. Miller explained that she opened the studio at a time when the community was “thriving” and most of the students were from the area. But several years later it was “not a good neighborhood anymore.”
“Not one kid in that zip code went to my studio,” Miller said. “Everyone was driving in hours to get to me.”
Miller filed for bankruptcy after defaulting on a $245,000 Florida condominium mortgage and a $96,000 mortgage on her dance studio in Penn Hills, a Pittsburgh suburb, her bankruptcy lawyer said. She said keeping up with the bills in a down economy became difficult.
“But what really happened, when I refinanced the [dance studio] building, they didn’t put the taxes into escrow and I did not know that. I was not aware of that,” Miller explained. “And they always had been because when you build a building they are automatically included. So I owed $37,000. So this whole entire thing, and me going to jail, is over $37,000.”
Prosecutors said Miller repeatedly hid her true income and contracts for future income from her TV shows until her channel-surfing bankruptcy judge saw her on TV and concluded she must be making far more than the $8,899 in monthly income she initially declared. She told Williams the bankruptcy was filed before she was ever on the show “Dance Moms,” and didn’t understand why the two cases were conflated.
The "Dance Moms" star was known for her brash behavior and pursuit of perfectionism from her dance students. The show follows a class of Miller's elite students and the perilous relationship she has with the girls' mothers. Critics of "Dance Moms" accuse Miller of being emotionally abusive toward the girls, and many episodes show her students dissolving into tears after a harsh critique.
Miller also accused Lifetime of conning her into signing a 4-year contract “in the dark.” She said she started off as a choreographer on “Dance Moms,” and allowed the network to use her building “for free” to film the show. According to Miller, producers from the show told her she had to sign an appearance release during one of the dance competitions and said the other parents had already signed it.
“I was a 4-year contract with a 4-year option,” she said.
Miller said she regrets ever being on TV and revealed where she is eating her last meal before she begins her prison sentence.
"Red Lobster," she said. "Because I like the biscuits."