Feds want 'Dance Moms' star to lose $120K in currency case

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — "Dance Moms" reality TV star Abby Lee Miller should forfeit $120,000 worth of Australian currency she brought into the country without reporting it, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh wants Miller to forfeit the money when she's sentenced Jan. 20 on the currency charge and for concealing $775,000 worth of income from the Lifetime network reality show and spinoff projects during her Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Miller pleaded guilty in June.

She was charged last year with illegally trying to hide her reality TV income from a bankruptcy court, and authorities added the currency charge shortly before she pleaded guilty in both cases. Authorities contend she divided more than $120,000 worth of Australian money into plastic bags and had others in her group put the bags in their luggage in August 2014, violating a law requiring people to report more than $10,000 worth of foreign currency before bringing it into the country.

Miller, who remains free on bond, has accepted responsibility for what she called "mistakes." One of her defense attorneys, Robert Ridge, said in June that it has been "a challenging time" and that Miller "appreciates the words of encouragement and support from around the world."

Miller's defense attorneys didn't immediately return calls and emails for comment on the government's forfeiture request.

Miller originally scheduled was for sentencing Oct. 11, and that has been postponed twice, pending the outcome of another, similar bankruptcy case now before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could affect her sentence.

Prosecutors said sentencing guidelines call for 24 to 30 months in prison, but Miller's attorneys contend her bankruptcy creditors incurred no loss, meaning the sentence could range from probation to up to six months.

"Dance Moms" follows Miller's young students and their involved mothers, who attend practices and performances and openly clash with the brash Miller over her criticism of their daughters. The show is based out of her dance studio in Penn Hills, a Pittsburgh suburb, although Miller now lives in Los Angeles.

The investigation began when a channel-surfing bankruptcy judge saw Miller on TV in December 2012 and figured she had to be making more than the $8,899 in monthly income she was claiming. Authorities said she hid more than $228,000 in income from appearances on "Dance Moms" and a spinoff, "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," and nearly $550,000 more from personal appearances, dance sessions and merchandise.

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