California Man Who Tried To Flee Country While His Ponzi Was Disintegrating Sentenced To Prison; John Anthony Miller Was Targeted In FBI/State Department Sting

A California man who tried to adopt the identity of a deceased classmate from his school days to flee the United States while his Ponzi scheme was unraveling has been sentenced to 159 months in federal prison.

The FBI and the State Department already were aware that John Anthony Miller’s scheme was falling apart when they targeted him in a sting in November 2008.

Miller, who was convicted in 1998 of racketeering “predicated on mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud offenses” was operating a Ponzi scheme a decade later through a company known as JAM Jr. Enterprises of Newport Beach, Calif., according to the criminal complaint in the case. Miller, 52, lived in San Clemente.

Working with an informant, an FBI agent who also was an attorney and a former clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, set up a sting operation. Miller’s telephone calls with the informant were recorded as the scheme was collapsing.

Miller sought the informant’s help in obtaining a passport to a country that did not have an extradition treaty with the United States, according to the complaint. Using a story that a family friend knew a corrupt passport official, the informant set up a meeting between Miller and the purportedly corrupt official, who was actually an undercover officer from the U.S. Department of State.

<!–adsensestart–>Miller agreed to pay $20,000 for the passport, with $5,000 paid up front and the balance of $15,000 upon delivery of the passport. Miller paid the undercover officer $5,000 in cash that had been stuffed in an envelope. He then filled out a passport application that used the identity of his deceased classmate, according to the complaint.

Worried about his ability to honor redemption requests in the Ponzi scheme, Miller told the informant that he had been “meditating” since 2007 over whether it was best to “hide out in the United States or abroad” and had contacted at least one other individual about obtaining a “fake identity,” according to the complaint.

By October 2008, according to the complaint, Miller needed between $4 million and $5 million to meet redemption requests and did not have the money. He was worried about “tense” people who could bring him unwanted attention “quick” and wondered how long it would take for the FBI and the SEC to respond to complaints about him if “someone pull[s] the trigger.”

Miller ultimately concluded it was best to flee the country. After using Ponzi proceeds to pay the undercover agent the $5,000 deposit  required for the bogus passport in November 2008, Miller was told it would take seven to 10 days for the documents to be prepared. He provided two photographs of himself, and used the name, Social Security number and date of birth of his deceased Catholic school classmate in the application.

FBI agents who had been keeping Miller under surveillance arrested him while he was preparing to flee. He was charged with mail fraud (for bogus statements he sent to investors), bribery, passport fraud and identity fraud. He pleaded guilty last year.

Investors lost more than $15 million in the scheme, which also involved a Miller company known as Forte Financial Partners.

“Miller promised investors ‘guaranteed’ annual returns of between 10 percent and 18 percent per year, telling investors that their money would be invested in foreign currency trading, oil wells, real estate and other vehicles,” prosecutors said.

Some investors raided their IRAs to invest with Miller, who promised better returns, prosecutors said.

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One Response to “California Man Who Tried To Flee Country While His Ponzi Was Disintegrating Sentenced To Prison; John Anthony Miller Was Targeted In FBI/State Department Sting”

  1. Say Patrick, your article says that “Miller was convicted of Racketeering in 1998.” That is incorrect – Miller was never previously convicted of serious crime. FYI.

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