Miller, Davis cases continued again

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

New federal trial date set for May 14

TRYON — The federal cases against former Tryon Commissioner Roy Miller and former Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis have been continued again, until May.

Miller and Davis were scheduled to be in federal court in Asheville on Monday, March 5. The case has now been continued to May 14.

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Miller was charged federally with one count of conspiracy to commit federal program fraud, one count of federal program fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right and one count of witness tampering.

Davis was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit federal program fraud.

The two were charged on April 4, 2017. Davis was fired from the town in January 2017, and Miller resigned his position as town commissioner, effective June 1, 2017.

The charges stem from Davis using town credit cards to pay Miller’s personal bills while Davis served as Tryon town manager, and fire chief.

Miller and Davis had their initial appearances in federal court in Asheville on April 12, 2017, with the judge placing the trial on the May 1, 2017, calendar.

The judge continued the May 1 trial date to June 19, 2017. The court then continued the June 19 trail to Sept. 5, 2017. The trail was then continued until Nov. 6, 2017, which was then continued to Jan. 2. That trial was continued to March 5, and the latest continuance is for May 14.

The Bulletin reached out to federal prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards, to inquire as to why the trial continues to be delayed.

Lia Bantavani, with the U.S. Department of Justice, responded on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, sending the court’s order that granted the most recent continuance. Bantavani said unfortunately, the reason for the continuance is not public record, as the document has been sealed and is only available to the parties.

The court’s order said defendant Miller moved to continue the case, and to seal a declaration filed in support of the motion to continue.

“As grounds, counsel states that additional time is needed because of personal circumstances of defendant Miller that are outlined in a declaration counsel filed under seal in support of the motion to continue,” stated the court order. “Counsel represents that the government does not oppose the requested continuance.”

The court order also said that defendant Davis filed a response to Miller’s motion to continue, which states he has no objection to the case being continued.

“Based on and in light of the information presented in the sealed declaration presented in support of defendant Miller’s motion to continue, the court finds that the case should be continued and that defendant’s motion to seal the declaration should be granted,” stated the court order. “The court finds that, under the circumstances, a failure to continue the case would result in a miscarriage of justice.”

The court also decided to continue Davis’ case, saying allowing for exclusion of “a reasonable period of delay when the defendant is joined for trial with a codefendant as to whom the time for trial has not run and no motion for severance has been granted.”

“For the reasons stated herein, the ends of justice served by the granting of the continuances outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendants in a speedy trial,” stated the court order, signed by United States District Judge Martin Reidinger.

The charges were given in federal court last year following an investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, into Davis paying $2,046 worth of Miller’s personal bills with town credit cards.

Miller’s personal expenses were paid with town credit cards between April 1, 2016, and Aug. 9, 2016, according to the federal indictment. The bills included were to Duke Energy, Nationwide Insurance and Charter Communications.

Davis’ attorney, Stephen Lindsay, has said that there is a discrepancy in how much money was paid toward Miller’s bills, and says the figure is more appropriately $1,600-$1,700 because the fire department also had a Charter Communication bill that was included.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Miller is facing a maximum of 55 years in federal prison and $1 million in fines for his charges, and Davis is facing a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his charge.

Attorney Fredilyn Sison is representing Miller in the case.

The new trial is set for 9 a.m. Monday, May 14, in the federal court building, located at 100 Otis St., Asheville.