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Montcalm Co. Defendants Who Stole from Elderly Woman Sentenced

LANSING - Three people charged for embezzling thousands from a 90-year-old woman in Montcalm County were sentenced, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. 

Earlier this month, a jury convicted Teri Miller of the following: 

  • one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, between $50,000 and $100,000;  
  • one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, $1,000 or more but less than $20,000;  
  • one count of using a computer to commit a crime;  
  • three counts of using a financial transaction device without consent; and 
  • one count of tax - failure to file.  

This morning, Judge Ronald Schafer sentenced Miller to 57 months to 15 years on the embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000 count, as well as 14 months to five years on the embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 count. The sentences are to be served consecutively for a total of 71 months' incarceration. She was also ordered to pay $97,798 in restitution to the victim's estate. 

Miller still faces one count of resisting or obstructing a police officer, which stemmed from her arrest on the embezzlement charges. That charge is pending in a separate case. 

Her husband, Kelly Miller, as well as her brother, Tim Riva, were also sentenced Thursday. 

Riva previously pleaded no contest to:  

  • one count of receiving stolen property, $200 or more but less than $1,000; and  
  • one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, $200 or more but less than $1,000.   

Kelly Miller previously pleaded no contest to: 

  • two counts of receiving or concealing stolen property, $200 or more but less than $1,000. 

Judge Schafer sentenced Kelly Miller to 59 days' jail with credit for 59 days served, three years' probation, and ordered him to pay $2,700 in restitution to the victim's estate.   

Riva was ordered to pay $2,000 restitution to the victim's estate and is under probationary supervision until the restitution and other court costs and fines are paid in full. 

UPDATE ON FINANCIAL ELDER ABUSE CASES

These latest sentencings bring the total convictions secured by Nessel's Financial Crimes Division to 15 in cases involving elder abuse since 2019. 

"When I launched the Elder Abuse Task Force, we understood that financial exploitation of seniors in our state was a significant concern," Nessel said. "Too often our state's most vulnerable are exploited for their resources. My Financial Crimes Division remains committed to securing accountability in these cases and to our priority of protecting the elderly." 

In addition to recent convictions, the Division successfully prosecuted a financial elder abuse case that is now the controlling caselaw for vulnerable adult prosecution. In August, the Michigan Court of Appeals (COA) upheld the conviction of a West Michigan man sent to prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly widow.  

Gary Haynes' conviction came after he stole over $300,000 from a widow in her 90's while serving as her financial advisor. One of Haynes' arguments on appeal was that there was insufficient evidence that the victim was a vulnerable adult, arguing, in part, because she was mentally capable of handling her own affairs. In affirming the defendant's conviction, the COA found that there was strong evidence by which a jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the victim was a vulnerable adult because she walked with a cane, needed help buying groceries, getting to appointments, doing chores around the house, and needed help paying her bills online because she was not familiar with computers. 

More than a dozen financial elder abuse cases remain open and ongoing. The newest prosecution is against Craig Macauley in Kalamazoo County District Court.  

He's charged with seven counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, $1,000 to $20,000. The Department alleges Macauley took over $45,000 from an elderly woman who depended on others to assist with tasks, like driving her to appointments. Additionally, Macauley allegedly transferred the title of the victim's truck to himself, maxed out her credit cards and overdrew her bank account. 

Macauley is scheduled for a preliminary exam before Judge Christopher T. Haenicke April 13. 

More information on the Elder Abuse Task Force is available online. Those interested in updates are welcome to subscribe to receive the newsletter.   

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Please note:  A criminal charge is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  The Department does not provide booking photos.