Todd Chrisley ordered to pay tax investigator $755,000 for defamation after losing lawsuit while in prison

Todd Chrisley’s legal and financial woes continue to mount as the reality star is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison after being convicted of federal bank fraud and tax evasion. 

On April 4, a Georgia court ordered Chrisley, 55, to pay Amy Doherty-Heinze $755,000 after he lost a defamation lawsuit the tax investigator filed against him in July 2021. 

In a defamation complaint obtained by People magazine, Doherty-Heinze, an investigator with the Georgia Department of Revenue (GDOR), accused Chrisley of slandering her on social media and “Chrisley Confessions,” the podcast he hosted with his wife Julie. 

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Doherty-Heinze alleged that, in 2020, the real estate tycoon “began attacking [her] and accusing her of a multitude of crimes and wrongdoing” after the GDOR launched an investigation of the Chrisleys in 2017. 

Doherty-Heinze accused Chrisley of starting a “social media campaign against the GDOR and certain of its employees, contending that the investigation was illegal and improperly motivated.”

She alleged Chrisley defamed her even though she was “not involved” in the GDOR’s investigation of him and his spouse.

According to People, the documents said Doherty-Heinze served Chrisley a “retraction demand” letter July 2, 2021. She later filed the lawsuit after he “failed and refused to retract any of his false and defamatory accusations.”

A jury in Newnan, Georgia, entered a verdict in Doherty-Heinze’s favor April 4, 2024, according to documents obtained by Fox News Digital.

The jury found Chrisley liable for one count of defamation by libel for written statements he made about Doherty-Heinze. The jurors also ruled Chrisley was liable for one count of defamation by slander for oral statements about her he made on episodes of his podcast in 2020.

Chrisley was found not liable for one count of defamation by slander for statements he made about Doherty-Heinze in a 2022 episode of “Chrisley Knows Best.” Though the jury agreed the statements were “false and defamatory,” Chrisley was not found liable since Doherty-Heinze had not proven by a “preponderance of evidence” that he had acted with “actual malice.”

Doherty-Heinze was awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages, $170,000 in punitive damages and $235,000 in legal costs.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Dohery-Heinze’s lead counsel, Nicole Wade, said, “Amy is thrilled with the jury’s verdict against Todd Chrisley. These lies have been hanging over her head for four years, and she is very thankful that the jury believed in her and vindicated her.

“The jury found on all counts that Mr. Chrisley’s accusations were false and defamatory, and they also found that he acted with actual malice and specific intent to harm Amy,” Wade continued. “The verdict against Mr. Chrisley proves that social media personalities will be held accountable for publicizing lies about an innocent person, and it is a lesson that we hope he takes to heart.”

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Leesa Guarnotta, a lawyer for Chrisley, did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. In a statement to People, Guarnotta said she and Chrisley were “pleased the jury recognized that some of Mr. Chrisley’s statements were not defamatory and awarded the plaintiff a fourth of the damages she requested.”

Guarnotta told the outlet they plan to appeal the ruling, saying, “We are concerned about the state of the First Amendment where such a case could make it to trial in the first place.

“We are optimistic about our appeal.”

Chrisley and his wife were convicted of federal bank fraud and tax evasion in June 2022, and they reported to prison in January 2023. Todd is serving his sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Florida, while Julie was sent to Federal Medical Center Lexington in Kentucky.

In September 2023, the Chrisleys were granted reduced sentences. The pair will now serve a combined 15 years — 10 for Todd and five for Julie.

Todd was originally sentenced to 12 years, and Julie was sentenced to seven after being indicted in August 2019 on bank fraud and tax evasion charges. They were originally ordered to complete 16 months of probation after their prison terms.

Julie’s convictions included conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. She was also charged with wire fraud and obstruction of justice. 

Todd was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. 

The two are appealing their case, and their daughter Savannah revealed in a November Instagram post that an appeals court had agreed to hear oral arguments. The oral arguments will begin April 19, according to People. 


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