Kevin Cody

Manhattan Beach’s Miller convicted on all counts of Redondo embezzlement charges

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Jim Miller (with banjo) in 2004 with fellow founders of MWRJ (Men Without Real Jobs) John MacEachern, Brue Timmer, Steve Mitchell, Russ Lesser and Sam Merrell. Photo by Kevin Cody

 

by Kevin Cody

Former U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission attorney Jim Miller, of Manhattan Beach, was convicted Monday in Los Angeles U.S. District Court on five counts of wire fraud and four of tax fraud. The jury deliberated less than 30 minutes following the five day trial.

Miller was charged in September 2014 of embezzling approximately $300,000 from MWRC Internet Sales. The Redondo Beach company was formed in 2000 by Miller and longtime friend Russ Lesser, then the CEO of Body Glove.

MWRC addressed the conflict between manufacturers who sell online, such as Body Glove, and retailers who sell the manufacturers’ products. According to court records, when Lesser learned in 2011 that Miller had made unauthorized payments to himself, Lesser agreed not to pursue criminal action if Miller reimbursed the company. Lesser, who testified for the prosecution, subsequently, learned that Miller resumed making unauthorized payments to himself.

Miller contended that as president of MWRC, he was authorized to make the payments. Following his 2014 arrest, Miller declined a plea bargain offer from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that would have spared him jail time, but would have required he plead guilty to a felony, resulting in his disbarment. He now faces up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and three years in prison for each  false tax return count. Sentencing is scheduled  for Aug. 7 in U.S. District Court.

On Wednesday, Miller’s son Jeff issued the following statement:

“I want to state first and foremost that in my opinion what my dad did was inappropriate and his decisions have consequences. Speaking only for myself and no one else, I understand the decision of the jury based on what was legally allowed to be presented in court. I think everyone involved wishes that this dispute among nearly lifelong friends would have been resolved differently. My family and our friends are focusing on the next steps as this process unfolds.  This has been an extremely challenging and emotionally draining time but we, and plenty of our friends, have faced much more difficult times and came out the other side.”

 

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