PITTSBURGH — A prosecutor on Friday urged a federal judge to sentence “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller to prison instead of probation for bankruptcy fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci called witnesses to buttress his contention that the reality TV star tried to avoid repaying hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt by hiding about $775,000 in income from a bankruptcy court.

Miller’s attorneys will call witnesses when the hearing continues Feb. 24, after which she’ll be sentenced.

Melucci faces an uphill battle to convince U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti that Miller deserves at least two years in prison.

That’s because the judge filed tentative findings on the eve of Friday’s hearing essentially agreeing with the defense argument that Miller deserves probation because no creditors lost money once the bankruptcy fraud was discovered.

But Melucci said the law allows Conti to sentence Miller based on the amount of money she intended to avoid repaying.

He said the only reason for Miller to hide income was to avoid repaying everything she owed. “No one would rob a bank if he knew it had no money in it,” Melucci argued.

Miller filed for bankruptcy largely because she had defaulted on a $245,000 mortgage on a Florida condo and a $96,000 mortgage on her dance studio in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. She listed nearly $60,000 in other debts, including unpaid property taxes.

– From news service reports

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