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Why Did Abby Lee Miller Go to Prison?

Abby Lee Miller is a dance instructor, choreographer, and reality TV star best known for being the director and founder of the Abby Lee Dance Company. She gained wider fame as the star of Lifetime’s reality show “Dance Moms” which premiered in 2011.

On Dance Moms, Miller taught young dancers at her studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and prepared them for competitions. She became known for her brash teaching methods and demanding personality on the show. Dance Moms ran for 8 seasons on Lifetime and helped propel Miller to fame in the dance world. At the height of the show’s popularity, Miller had become an infamous reality TV personality.

Financial Fraud and Tax Evasion Charges

In October 2015, Miller was indicted on 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud by a federal grand jury. The charges included concealing over $750,000 of income from Dance Moms and spinoff shows during Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Miller was also accused of illegally hiding her income from masterclasses, merchandise sales, and more in an secret account in 2014.

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Federal prosecutors said Miller “blatantly” hid her additional income and requested the court sentence her to 2 1/2 to 3 years in prison. Miller pled guilty to reduced charges of bankruptcy fraud and failing to report an international monetary transaction. She admitted to bringing $120,000 of income from a Dance Moms spinoff show in Australia back into the U.S. undeclared.

Sentencing and Imprisonment

On May 9, 2017, Miller was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $40,000 and a $120,000 judgment.

Miller reported to the Victorville Federal Correctional Institution in July 2017 to begin serving her prison sentence. She served approximately 8 months behind bars before being released to a halfway house in March 2018.

While imprisoned, Miller lost a significant amount of weight and was photographed looking thin in plain black clothing upon her release. She later said she lost 100 pounds while incarcerated.

Key Events Leading to Prison Sentence

Here is a timeline of the key events that led to Abby Lee Miller’s conviction and imprisonment:

  • 2010 – Miller files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming over $400,000 in debt
  • 2011 – Dance Moms premieres, earning Miller significant income
  • 2014 – Miller hides over $120,000 of income from Australian Dance Moms spinoff in secret account
  • 2015 – Miller indicted on 20 counts of fraud and indicted by federal grand jury
  • 2016 – Miller pleads guilty to reduced charges, admits wrongdoing
  • 2017 – Miller sentenced to 1 year and 1 day in prison, plus fines
  • July 2017 – Miller reports to Victorville prison to serve sentence
  • March 2018 – Released from prison to halfway house after 8 months
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Questions Related to Miller’s Imprisonment

Here are some common questions that arise when examining why Abby Lee Miller went to prison:

How much time did Abby Lee Miller serve in prison?

Miller served approximately 8 months in prison before being released to a halfway house. She was initially sentenced to 1 year and 1 day behind bars.

Where was Abby Lee imprisoned?

Miller served her sentence at the Victorville Federal Correctional Institution in Victorville, California.

What was life like for Miller in prison?

By all accounts, prison life was extremely difficult for Miller. She has said she was constantly scared and threatened, and lost 100 pounds while locked up. One report said she described her time behind bars as “mental torture.”

What happened when Abby Lee Miller got out of prison?

After being released from prison in March 2018, Miller spent time in a halfway house and underwent spinal surgery for a back injury. She announced on Instagram she was living in a halfway house that May.

Did Abby Lee Miller’s time in prison change her?

Miller has stated that the prison sentence deeply changed her outlook on life. She said it gave her time to reflect on the mistakes she had made. Some Dance Moms stars said Miller seemed “more at peace” after returning from prison.

How did Abby Lee Miller’s career change after she got out of prison?

Miller mostly stepped back from Dance Moms after her release. She later launched a Youtube channel and appeared on Dance Moms spinoffs, but with a diminished role. Her career never fully rebounded to the heights of her Dance Moms fame.

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Key Takeaways from Miller’s Prison Sentence

  • Miller served 8 months in prison for bankruptcy fraud and bringing undeclared income into the U.S.
  • She was ordered to pay fines and restitution totaling over $150,000
  • The Dance Moms star admitted wrongdoing and said prison changed her outlook
  • Miller lost 100 pounds while incarcerated at Victorville Federal Prison
  • Her career and fame declined significantly following her release
  • The case serves as a warning about the real consequences of financial crimes


Abby Lee Miller’s rise and fall stands as a cautionary tale in the entertainment world. Her brash persona and demanding nature earned her fame and success through Dance Moms. However, Miller’s fraudulent financial activities and schemes to hide income eventually caught up to her. She served real prison time and her career never fully recovered after doing her time. The saga of Miller going to jail for fraud was agrim reminder that reality TV status cannot protect someone from legal consequences. While Miller is trying to slowly revive her career, her days as the biggest star on Dance Moms remain far behind her.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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