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Popular reality TV star charged with 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a fan of so-called "reality television," the fact remains that these programs draw huge ratings and, as such, will continue to be produced by networks anxious to find their next big hit.

Interestingly enough, a star of one of the most popular reality TV programs currently on the air is now facing a host of serious criminal charges for allegedly being less than forthcoming about her income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Abigale Lee Miller, known to legions of fans as the vociferous dance instructor of the hit show "Dance Moms" on the Lifetime Network, was indicted earlier this week on charges alleging everything from bankruptcy fraud and the filing of false bankruptcy declarations to concealment of bankruptcy assets.

According to the 20-count indictment, Miller, 50, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2010, looking to reorganize her dance studio based in the Pittsburgh area. It goes on to essentially accuse her of concealing over $755,000 in income derived between 2012 and 2013 from such endeavors as her TV shows, advanced studio dance classes and merchandise/apparel sales from both her creditors and the bankruptcy trustee throughout various bank accounts.

This fraudulent conduct, the indictment alleges, enabled her to secure more favorable terms to restructure her debt via bankruptcy.

Each count calls for a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

“Federal bankruptcy proceedings can be a lifesaver for honest individuals overwhelmed by debt resulting from any number of legitimate reasons, but allegations of fraud and abuse threaten the integrity of the bankruptcy process and the public’s trust in it,” said an FBI official.

While it's unlikely that Miller will be sent to prison for anywhere near the maximum, her case does serve to underscore just how important it is for anyone going through the bankruptcy process -- personal or business -- to completely disclose any and all assets, as even seemingly innocent mistakes can have dire consequences.

The good news, however, is that by retaining the services of an experienced legal professional, a person can always have all their questions answered, always be certain that they remain legally complaint and always give themselves peace of mind about securing a fresh start.

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