Monday, December 15, 2014

Former Builder Sent Back to Prison For Fraud While on Federal Release

U.S. Department of Justice

TOPEKA, KAN. – Former Kansas City builder F. Jeffrey Miller has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for violating the terms of his release when he became involved in a new real estate scam, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Miller, 53, was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison in August 2012 after a jury convicted him of bank fraud, money laundering and criminal contempt. On Jan. 10, 2014, he entered supervised release.

In a 16-page order issued last month, U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson cited evidence that Miller lied to his probation officer about his involvement with his son, Brandon, in a company called Tri-States Holding, LLC (TSH). She cited “substantial evidence about the fraudulent practices and transactions” by the company.

During sentencing hearings, prosecutors submitted evidence that Miller began planning a new business while he was in prison. He formed the new company with his 23-year-old son, Brandon. Although Brandon Miller was represented as the owner, his father controlled the company.

The Millers claimed to be in business to buy, refurbish and sell houses. In fact, Judge Robinson said in her order, the business was engaged in a “contract for deed scam.”

The company purchased more than 40 houses at Jackson County, Mo., tax sales and then advertised the houses for sale to low-income people in the urban core of Kansas City.

The company advertised home ownership for just $500 down, sweat equity of no more than $2,000 in the form of cosmetic repairs including painting and clean up, and then monthly payments of $399. The buyers signed contracts for purchase prices in the $35,000 range.

Prosecutors presented evidence the company failed to complete promised repairs, performing shoddy repairs or virtually no repairs at all and then harassed and threatened buyers who ceased to make payments.

Judge Robinson ruled Miller violated four conditions of his supervised release by:
  • Controlling the new company even though he was prohibited from working in any capacity involving authority in financial matters.
  • Telling his probation officer that that he was a mere laborer at the new company when in fact he controlled the company.
  • Making false monthly reports to the probation office that he was not committing any federal crimes.
  • Making threats of bodily harm to a woman who purchased a house from the new company.
Grissom commended the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway for their work on the case.