The New York man accused of stealing $3.6 million of public funds from Miami Beach was indicted in federal court this week on multiple counts of bank fraud and identity theft.
The indictment accuses David J. Miller of stealing another man’s identity to set up an account with a website where people can buy and sell “personal seat licenses,” which entitle the holder to buy season tickets or individual game tickets for sporting events. Then Miller somehow obtained the bank information for a Miami Beach bank account and set up automatic bank transfers so he could use the money to buy seat licenses and pay his utility bills in Syracuse, the indictment says.
Federal agents originally charged Miller, 45, in a criminal complaint filed May 30. The next day, state authorities arrested Miller on unrelated identity theft charges in Syracuse. Court records show he remains in Onondaga County Jail without bail and no upcoming court date. Now that he is charged in Florida federal court, he can be transferred here and arraigned on formal charges.
The indictment charges Miller with 20 counts of bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of access device fraud, or the unauthorized use of the city’s bank information. The maximum penalty for the bank fraud charges is 30 years in prison. For access device fraud, the maximum is 10 years. The identity theft charge carries up to a two-year sentence.
The indictment lists 19 dates on which Miller is alleged to have stolen money out of the Beach’s account, either to pay for seat licenses or his utility bills. Thousands were siphoned out of the city account in increasingly large payments. The first transfer of $7,511 on July 29, 2016, was followed by a $19,340 transfer in mid-August and $97,300 on Aug. 31, 2016.
The transfers increased to more than $100,000 in September. The large payments continued the next month, peaking on Oct. 17. On that day, $352,000 was used to buy expensive sports tickets.
Meanwhile, the Beach’s finance department did not notice the large sums of taxpayer dollars flying out the window until December, prompting the city to close the account and initiate a criminal investigation. A consultant’s review earlier this year found that sloppy management, inadequate staffing and problems adapting to newly installed software all contributed to the Beach’s failure to detect the fraud earlier.
One basic function of good financial management, the reconciliation of bank accounts on a monthly basis, was typically 15 days to a month behind.
The theft was first reported by the Miami Herald in December 2016. The fallout from the scandal led to the firing of two mid-level finance staffers whom City Manager Jimmy Morales said should have noticed the missing money. But department leadership remains at City Hall. Allison Williams, the city’s chief financial officer at the time of the fraud, was demoted to deputy finance officer. A new CFO, former budget director John Woodruff, was named in February. Woodruff has hired new staffers and put into place several controls recommended by the consultant.
As of early June, a little more than half of the stolen money had been recovered.
On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Miami Beach’s administration declined to comment for this story.
Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to his report.