Court overturns fraud conviction against Miller
Published: September 18, 2010
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The Virgin Islands Supreme Court has set aside the conviction of former Schneider Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Rodney Miller Sr. on a fraud charge stemming from his failure to disclose his bad conduct discharge from the Navy on his government job application.
This decision is separate from a larger case in which Miller is accused of running a criminal enterprise within the hospital while he was CEO at Schneider.
Regarding the failure to be truthful about his bad conduct discharge when he filed his application for the Schneider job, an 11-page opinion written by Justice Maria Cabret of the V.I. Supreme Court found that the three-year statute of limitations had already expired when prosecutors charged Miller in 2008 with making the fraudulent statement on his government job application.
Miller signed the application — in which he checked the box indicating he had an honorable or general discharge — in May 2002.
The high court’s decision on Miller’s appeal of his conviction was based solely on his argument that the statute of limitations had expired, and the opinion does not address his assertions concerning other errors he contends were made at the trial court level.
“We’re very happy, not only for Rodney, but for the law, because this is the position we’ve been urging since 2008 — since the case was filed,” said attorney William Glore, of Dudley, Clark and Chan, who represented Miller during the February 2009 trial.
Glore said that the fact that the Supreme Court decision was unanimous “just makes us all the more joyful.”
Miller “was elated” and “very thankful” for the high court’s decision, Glore said.
V.I. Assistant Attorney General Denise George-Counts said Friday that she still was reviewing the opinion.
“Of course I’m disappointed in the outcome. It’s just part of the judicial process,” she said, adding that no decisions had been made about whether the Attorney General’s Office would appeal the decision.
A jury convicted Miller in February 2009 of defrauding the government by lying about his bad conduct discharge from the U.S. Navy on his government job application.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall sentenced him in May 2009 to a year of supervised probation, to pay the maximum fine of $500, to perform 100 hours of community service, and to pay $75 in court costs and $200 in probation fees.
Before the trial, Miller had asked the Superior Court to dismiss the charge, arguing that the statute of limitations had expired, but the motion was denied.
On appeal, the Supreme Court took up the question of whether Miller’s prosecution for making a false or fraudulent statement or misrepresentation on his job application constitutes a prosecution for the falsification of public records.
Although the section of V.I. Code under which Miller was charged with making a false statement to the government is subject to the three-year statute of limitations, there is no statute of limitations for the crime of falsifying public records.
The Supreme Court found that V.I. Code delineates falsification of public records as a distinct crime — and not the one with which Miller was charged. The trial court should have based its opinion on the plain language of the section of code under which Miller was charged, the opinion states.
“Whether or not Miller’s employment application ultimately became part of the public record is immaterial to the crime with which he was charged,” the opinion states.
It was not clear how the Supreme Court decision would affect a separate case against Miller that was filed earlier this year, in which he is accused of attempting to present to the court a fraudulent military identification card as evidence for the February 2009 trial.
George-Counts said that no decisions had yet been made regarding that case in light of the ruling.
Attorney Adriane Dudley, senior partner with Dudley Clark and Chan, said she was “hoping that this result will influence the government’s handling of the companion case.”
George-Counts noted that prosecutors definitely are moving forward with the main case charging Miller and three other former hospital officials with a multitude of fraud and conspiracy charges. That case tentatively is set to go to trial in January.
— Contact reporter Joy Blackburn at 774-8772 ext. 455 or e-mail email@example.com.