United States v. Miller, No. 15-2577 (3d Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
With little formal education (a high school GED) Miller passed several securities industry examinations and “maintained a public persona of a very successful entrepreneur.” Miller sold investors over $41 million in phony “promissory notes,” which were securities under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(1), 78c(a)(10), and not exempt from federal or state registration requirements. Miller did not register the notes; he squandered the money, operating a Ponzi scheme. Miller pled guilty to one count of securities fraud, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), and one count of tax evasion, 26 U.S.C. 7201. He was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the court improperly applied the Sentencing Guidelines investment adviser enhancement, U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(b)(19)(A)(iii). The court interpreted the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. 80b-2(a)(11) to apply broadly, with exceptions that do not apply to Miller. The court also rejected arguments that the government breached Miller’s plea agreement and that his sentence was substantively unreasonable.