Miami-Dade County

Former UM finance chief sentenced to three years for embezzlement

This University of Miami’s main campus, at the corner of Stanford Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables.
This University of Miami’s main campus, at the corner of Stanford Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables. mhalper@miamiherald.com

A former University of Miami finance director who embezzled $2.3 million from the college by falsifying bills and hiding the ill-gotten payments was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday.

Kimberly Jean Miller, 58, was hoping for half that sentence after her defense attorney portrayed the mother of two as a victim of physical and psychological abuse in her youth and as her family’s sole breadwinner.

Attorney Walter Reynoso described Miller as a “charitable” woman who made “the best out of a difficult life” and was “deeply remorseful for her conduct.”

But U.S. District Judge Robert Scola sided with prosecutor Amanda Perwin’s recommendation of the low end of the sentencing guidelines — three to four years — after pleading guilty in May to four counts of tax evasion.

Miller had worked as the finance director of the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science for more than a decade. According to her plea deal, Miller admitted that she avoided paying about $330,000 in federal taxes on more than $1 million in unreported income between 2008 and 2011.

The factual statement filed with the plea deal stated that “between 2002 and 2012, Miller used her authority at [Rosenstiel] to embezzle from the University of Miami, by falsifying invoices from a vendor called International Assets, [the school's] print shop.”

Miller changed the name of the company on those invoices to “Inter, Inc.” and then directed UM's main office on the Coral Cables campus to issue the check payments to the Rosenstiel school on Virginia Key, the statement said. Miller then deposited the Inter, Inc. checks into a Citibank business account in the name of Intercontinental Oceans, Inc., a company she had opened in 1993.

An internal audit at Rosenstiel revealed that, over 10 years, Miller embezzled $2.3 million from the university, Perwin said.

A UM spokeswoman previously declined to comment on Miller's case, citing the university's policy not to discuss personnel matters.

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