According to the investigation by the Sheriff’s office, Miller had been hired by George and Eileen Johnston as their trustee and power of attorney three years ago in August 2013. He was to control their six financial accounts.
Attorney's Responsibility for Client Funds. No commingling of funds is allowed. Typically, the only firm-affiliated money that is permitted in a “client trust” or “escrow” account is money deposited to cover fees charged by the financial institution that services the account.
An attorney is usually permitted to charge a reasonable fee for maintaining the account, but all interest earned on the account belongs to the client. No commingling of funds is allowed.
In some states, attorneys have discretion about whether to deposit client funds in interest-bearing bank accounts, but in states like New York, lawyers are not allowed to place qualifying funds in a non-interest bearing account.
At the onset of representation, and throughout the course of the case, an attorney who receives, maintains, or disburses client funds is almost always required to establish a “client trust account” or “escrow” account, separate from any account used for firm business or for any other purpose.
On Tuesday, Adam Russell Miller was arrested by detectives with the sheriff’s office’s Criminal Investigation Section and FBI agents who had a warrant for his arrest. Law enforcement also executed search warrants at his home and office.
Records revealed that Miller allegedly took more than $130,000 from the couple’s account before the death of the husband on March 29, 2015. Miller had begun to open up additional accounts in the name of the couple’s trust, even opening up one after they were both dead.
A Venice woman who died on Aug. 9, 2013 was also victimized by Miller, according to detectives. Miller took about $336,000 from the woman’s trust account and never paid out any of her beneficiaries.
The investigation determined that Miller stole a total of more than $400,000 of the couple’s money, according to his arrest report.
He is currently being held at the Sarasota County jail on bonds totaling $1,257,500, but he is currently not allow to post bond until a Nebbia hearing can be held during which Miller will have to prove that any money that he would use for bond would not come from illegitimate sources.
A Venice attorney has been arrested on fraud charges after a joint investigation by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed he had embezzled more than $700,000 from at least four of his clients’ trust accounts — including after their deaths.