A Minnesota Army veteran who holed up in Southeast Asia for more than six years was tracked down and has admitted to embezzling $566,000 from an Army agency.
Michael C. Miller, 46, formerly of Rochester, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in St. Paul to stealing public money and money laundering. He used the money to buy a house in the Philippines and a $34,000 car, according to officials and documents.
Miller remains in federal custody in the Anoka County jail while he awaits sentencing.
Federal guidelines call for a prison term ranging from 27 to 33 months. His sentence will include full restitution to his former employer, which repaid the stolen money to the Army agency, according to defense attorney Kevin Short.
Short said Thursday his client served 10 years in the Army before working for California-based EXP Pharmaceutical, which returns unneeded pharmaceuticals to manufacturers and drug vendors.
Miller served his country honorably and “doesn’t [otherwise] have a criminal conviction for even spitting on the sidewalk,” Short said. “He’s extraordinarily contrite for what he did.”
Prosecutors and court documents said that while working for EXP in Minnesota in 2006, Miller redirected money from the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency to his personal bank account. He used the money to buy the home in the Philippines and a Chrysler 300C.
When questioned in March 2007 by a Defense Department investigator, Miller falsely contended that the money was paid to him as “legitimate bonuses” by his employer, one document read. He added that some of the money went to a real estate venture in the Philippines called Jolly Construction and said he was flying to California the next day to meet with his employer. Instead, he fled to the Philippines, where he started a family.
Tracked down in 2013
Authorities tracked him down in a remote Philippine village in November.
Short said Miller was in touch with the U.S. Embassy in Manila over those years, filing papers to ensure that his children born in the Philippines were registered as U.S. citizens.
The attorney added that once Miller learned of the federal allegations, “he contacted the U.S. Embassy to arrange to turn himself in.” However, he fought his immediate return to the United States because he was “arrested when his wife and children were visiting relatives ,and [he] wanted to delay his departure until his wife and children were told.”
Miller has been married at least twice previously in the United States but court records show only one divorce, in 1996.