Ex-defense contractor gets maximum sentence for bribery

By TIM MCGLONE | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: November 8, 2014

NORFOLK, Va, (MCT) — A former defense contractor and philanthropist was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison and given a scolding by a federal judge for not completely owning up to his crimes.

Timothy S. Miller, 58, who pleaded guilty to paying a gratuity to a public official, tried to apologize before Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith. But she chastised him when he tried to diminish his role.

"In my mind, you missed the point of accepting your responsibility," the judge told him harshly. "In my opinion you are minimizing what you did."

His attorney, Jon Babineau, spent about two hours trying to persuade her to sentence his client to home detention. She gave Miller the maximum penalty.

Miller was a wealthy telecommunications contractor who did most of his work with the Army. His troubles began when he turned to the Navy's Military Sealift Command for contracts.

During a 2009 meeting with two sealift command officials, Miller and his business associate, Dwayne Hardman, agreed to pay bribes in exchange for lucrative contracts to work on ships.

Miller admitted that while working for Miller Hardman Design, a company then co-owned by his daughter and Hardman, he paid $50,000 in bribes to the officials in exchange for $2.5 million in contracts. Hardman, who paid $144,000 in bribes, has also pleaded guilty and is serving eight years in prison.

Prosecutors said the company failed to perform the work and was out of business in less than a year.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Haynie said Miller and Hardman "looted the company."

They made questionable purchases with some of the contract money, including a boat and docking fees, multiple Mercedes Benz vehicles, numerous Louis Vuitton items, home remodeling, personal expenses including divorce fees and child support payments, jewelry, sports tickets and limousine services, he said.

But Miller, in court, said he and his daughter ultimately completed the work after removing Hardman from the company. Miller said he used money out of his own pocket.

"I hope that is taken into consideration," he told the judge.

It wasn't.

"The key is not performing and finishing. The key is getting a job and completing it honestly," she said.

She wondered, since the bid was fixed, whether another company could have performed the work at a lower cost.

"The whole thing was rigged," she said. "The nature and circumstances of this offense are quite severe."

She commended Miller for the millions of dollars he has donated, largely to youth sports programs and Old Dominion University, but said it would be "a travesty of justice" to sentence him to anything less than what the least culpable person got, which was two years. In all, seven people have been convicted in the bribery scheme.

"In the end, one of those seven deadly sins got to you, and it's called greed," Smith told him.

As she handed down the sentence before a packed courtroom, several family members ran weeping from the room.

Smith allowed Miller to remain free on bond for 60 days until he is assigned a federal prison. He asked to serve his time at a prison with medical facilities to take care of a serious heart condition.

She also ordered that he forfeit $167,000 and pay a $25,000 fine.

The two sealift command contracting officials, Scott Miserendino and Kenny Toy, both from Northern Virginia, shared a total of $265,000 in bribes.

Miserendino was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison. Toy previously was sentenced to eight years as well. As government officials, they faced harsher penalties for accepting bribes.

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