Goshen Man Sentenced to 97 Months in Prison And Ordered to Pay $2,313,873.28 in Restitution
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Indiana
SOUTH BEND – Earl D. Miller, 44 years old, of Goshen, Indiana, was sentenced today by United States District Court Senior Judge Jon E. DeGuilio on guilty verdicts returned by a federal jury after a five-day jury trial in May 2022, announced United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson.
On May 13, 2022, Miller was found guilty by the federal trial jury of five counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. That same jury acquitted Miller of one count of wire fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud.
Miller was sentenced to 97 months in prison, 1 year of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,313,873.28 in restitution.
According to documents in the case, Miller became the sole owner of “5 Star”, a real estate investment firm, in July of 2014. Through 5 Star and it its numerous related entities, Miller obtained funds from multiple investors’ by fraudulently telling them he would invest their funds in certain real estate investments but then actually using their funds in other ways, such as paying interest to other investors, investing in non-disclosed entities, paying for a spiritual advisor and a pontoon boat. From July of 2014 to January of 2016, Miller made over $4.5 million worth of payments from 5 Star accounts to entities not disclosed or approved by investors. Approximately 80% of investors in 5 Star were Amish or Mennonite.
On January 25, 2016, Miller filed petitions for bankruptcy relief on behalf of eleven 5 Star related business entities. In these bankruptcy proceedings, the United States Trustee appointed a chapter 11 trustee to administer the cases, and the chapter 11 trustee was able to recover some improper payments Miller had made and, on July 2, 2018, negotiate an agreement with Miller to pay $600,000 to the bankruptcy estates. As of April 2021, he had only paid approximately $36,000.00 of the agreed amount to the bankruptcy estates.
United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson said, “The essence of this defendant’s crime is that he convinced people to invest in businesses by telling them a lie: that their money would be invested one way, while he used those funds in other ways. Mr. Miller’s crimes are particularly offensive because trial evidence showed that he perpetrated his fraud against Amish and Mennonite community members. This case shows that my office will vigorously prosecute affinity frauds.”
“Today’s sentencing should serve as a strong reminder that there are consequences for this illegal behavior and those who choose fraud will be held accountable,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton. “The FBI and our partners will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of those engaging in criminal behavior.”
“Today’s sentence shows that abusive and fraudulent conduct will not be tolerated, and the bankruptcy system and its integrity will be protected through the commitment of U.S. Attorney Johnson and our law enforcement partners,” said Nancy J. Gargula, the United States Trustee for Indiana and the Central and Southern District of Illinois (Region 10). The United States Trustee Program is the component of the Justice Department that protects the integrity of the bankruptcy system by overseeing case administration and litigating to enforce the bankruptcy laws. Region 10 is headquartered in Indianapolis with additional office in South Bend, IN and Peoria, IL.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Northern Indiana Bankruptcy Fraud Working Group coordinated by Region 10 U.S. Trustee Nancy J. Gargula. The U.S. Security Exchange Commission along with the Fairfax County Virginia and Salinas California Police Departments also assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John M. Maciejczyk and Jerome W. McKeever
Updated November 30, 2023