Theft case against former fire chief delayed — again — to 2023
A former local fire chief accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from his fire company won’t stand trial until 2023.
Attorneys sought, and ultimately received, grudging approval from a judge Thursday to push the case against Steven D. Miller, 60, out to January.
Miller is accused of embezzling more than $16,000 from the now-defunct Liberty Fire Co. between 2015 and 2019 while he was chief. He’s charged with felony counts of theft, theft by failing to make required disposition of funds and receiving stolen property.
A forensic audit, commissioned by the North York Borough Council in 2019, concluded Miller likely misappropriated assets from 2012 through 2018.
During Thursday’s hearing, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Virginia Hobbs said Miller’s attorney, Jeremy Williams, wants time to discuss a new plea offer with Miller, and he wouldn’t be in a position to argue a week-long trial in the near future.
Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook asked how plans for the trial grew from a three-day proceeding to five days. Both sides responded they each intend to call multiple witnesses, including a forensic accountant for the prosecution, which could require the whole week of the court's time.
When asked when attorneys would be ready for trial, Hobbs said probably in 2023.
“Why? This isn’t like it happened yesterday,” Musti Cook responded, noting that the case is close to two years old.
Williams explained that on top of preparation work, he would feel more comfortable pushing the trial back so he could get “out of the woods” on some personal matters.
Williams and Hobbs agreed the available trial term for the week of January 23 would work for the case. Judge Musti Cook accepted the suggestion and ordered a hearing for that week.
Miller resigned as Liberty’s fire chief in April 2020, and he was then charged in this case that September. The fire company disbanded three months later.
The case was on the trial list in February and May of this year, and was postponed each time with Thursday as the latest hearing in the matter.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.