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First Witness worker pleads guilty to fraud

Her defense attorney said Patricia "Patty" Miller was one of the most well-respected members of this or any community -- "until this happened." Miller, the former executive director of First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center in Duluth, pleaded ...

Miller
[News Tribune]

Her defense attorney said Patricia "Patty" Miller was one of the most well-respected members of this or any community -- "until this happened."

Miller, the former executive director of First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center in Duluth, pleaded guilty Wednesday to mail fraud for defrauding the center and its clients out of $120,842.

U.S. District Judge David Doty will determine Miller's fate when sentencing is scheduled. She probably faces a prison sentence. Her attorney, Richard Holmstrom, said the federal guideline prison sentence for his client's crime is about 16 to 21 months. The maximum sentence is 20 years. Miller, 44, has no prior criminal record.

According to the charge, from January 2003 through July 2007 Miller schemed to trick First Witness into paying personal expenses by claiming those expenses were business-related.

Holmstrom said his client was declining comment Wednesday. "She just feels horrible about what happened," he said. "She loves the First Witness program. She can't believe her own actions and she's doing her best to own up to it."

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He said Miller has prepared herself for a probable prison sentence.

The mission of First Witness is to strengthen the community's response to child abuse. The center provides support for the investigation and assessment of child abuse cases, in addition to providing nationally recognized educational training for professionals.

"I think it's important to separate the actions of one individual from the important mission of First Witness," Duluth Deputy Police Chief John Beyer said. "The Duluth Police Department considers First Witness to be a strong partner and we appreciate the invaluable service that they provide for injured and abused children throughout the Northland."

Related Topics: FRAUDTHEFT
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