- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Sentencing for former Utah lawmaker Justin Miller was postponed Friday after a judge in the case disclosed that her husband worked for the victim, the mayor of Salt Lake County.

Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman did not preside over any hearings in the case until Friday, when she told attorneys in court about her husband’s work for Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

Miller, a Democrat, pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in October, acknowledging he took about $24,000 in campaign money from McAdams.

He was expected to receive probation if he repaid the money. But attorneys said his sentencing likely will be pushed off to sometime next year, when a new judge can be assigned to the case.

Miller, 35, represented a Salt Lake City suburb in the state House. He resigned in October on the same day he was charged and quickly pleaded guilty under a plea deal with prosecutors.

Even without the judge’s recusal, the sentencing would likely have been postponed over a dispute about restitution in the case. The mayor’s campaign filed documents with the court this week claiming Miller either lost or stole about $50,000 from the campaign, prosecutor Steven Major said.

Major said they came to that number after some additional accounting, but Miller disputes that amount. Major said both sides will try to negotiate how much Miller will repay, but if they can’t agree, they may present evidence of the missing $50,000 at a hearing.

A court document laying out the campaign’s claims of the additional missing money is not public. Major and defense attorney Steven Shapiro declined to describe the disputed amounts Friday.

Miller declined to comment after the court hearing.

While he was campaign manager for McAdams in 2014, Miller wrote a check to himself to pay for event catering but never reimbursed the campaign.

Miller was quietly fired by McAdams in October 2014 and elected to the Legislature a month later.

When allegations about the missing money became public in May, Miller initially said he didn’t do anything wrong and was being retaliated against for raising red flags about the office’s relationship with a well-connected political consulting group.

Salt Lake County prosecutors and the FBI said they looked into the allegations and found no wrongdoing.

Miller served in Utah’s House for less than a year. During his tenure, he sponsored a law that bars discrimination against breast-feeding mothers at work.

In 2006, Miller was arrested at the stadium where Salt Lake City’s minor league baseball team plays after shoppers at the Salt Lake Bees gift shop reported seeing him put on a $70 jersey in the shore, rip off its tag and later leave without paying for it. According to a Salt Lake City police report, Miller told officers he accidently failed to pay for the jersey.

He was charged with misdemeanor theft. But a judge dismissed it a year later in exchange for community service, which Miller earned by working with the Salt Lake County Democratic Party.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide