- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

The sister of Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. has been sentenced to serve 20 months in prison for fraud and impersonating members of Congress to get airline ticket discounts that prosecutors said were worth $440,000.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee recommended that Judith L. Miller of McLean, who owns Arlington-based Group Trips Unlimited Inc., serve her sentence in the Alderson, W.Va., federal prison.
Judge Lee ordered supervision for three years after her release, fined her $25,000, fined her company $10,000 and ordered that $2,500 in restitution be paid to United Airlines and American Airlines for their losses.
He ordered no restitution for now-bankrupt US Airways, whose employees reported that Ms. Miller told them her "senator" brother would sue if they gave her trouble over the discounts.
Ms. Miller faced a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud and up to three years and a $250,000 fine on five counts of impersonating members of Congress. Her company faced a $500,000 fine.
Reached at her business yesterday, Ms. Miller said she did not plan to appeal Judge Lee's decision because she was pleased that he had rejected claims of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages by the airlines.
She also said her company would continue to operate.
"We only made $8,000 in commissions," Ms. Miller said. "I have no idea why the government would spend so much money to prosecute such a [small] case. I am going to call this a victory and I'll be glad to go to Alderson."
She said the judge also ordered "mental health treatment."
"That's not a proud thing to be saying in the newspaper, but I probably need it," she said.
Prosecutors said Ms. Miller forged the signatures of former Republican Reps. Robert Livingston, Robert Smith, Frank Riggs and Democrat Sidney Yates on Congressional Official Travel Authorization documents.
Jack Hanly, assistant U.S. attorney for Eastern Virginia, said Ms. Miller said she did not remember how she obtained the forms, but that a former employee had conducted business with Congress.
Ms. Miller said she sought the ticket discounts for government contractors, who she thought were entitled to the discounts.
"What I said to the airlines was, 'I should sue you because of all of the harassment' I was crying when I said it," Ms. Miller said. "My brother had absolutely nothing to do with this case at all."
Mr. Hanly said there was evidence that Mr. Miller was involved in his sister's actions or that he knew she had used his position to threaten the airlines. Mr. Miller was neither investigated nor deposed.
But he has legal issues of his own.
A trial lawyer, Mr. Miller is under scrutiny by a state legislative ethics panel that resumes deliberations today on whether he and other Democratic senators tried to influence redistricting decisions when they contacted Maryland Court of Appeals judges who were hearing the lawsuits against the Democrat-drawn reapportionment plan.

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