July 31, 2014

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Court officer resigns after shoplifting accusation

LORAIN — Joel Miller resigned from his job as a Lorain Municipal Court security officer last week after he was suspected of, but never charged with, shoplifting from the Amherst Target and stealing a trailer hitch from a truck in the store’s parking lot.

The June 21 incident that preceded Miller’s resignation was his second brush with the law this year. He pleaded no contest in May to disorderly conduct for allegedly entering his estranged wife’s home without permission on March 30. He was given time off after the incident, his attorney has said.

Lorain Municipal Court Judge Mark Mihok said Monday that Miller, a retired Lorain police officer, submitted his resignation voluntarily last week.

According to an Amherst police report, officers were called to Target around 3:30 p.m. on June 21 for a report of a man, later identified as Miller, walking through the store taking cell phone accessories, removing them from their packaging and putting the items in his pocket. Security also said that Miller had shoplifted from the store on June 16.

The store’s policy dictated that given the circumstances under which Miller left the store, he couldn’t be apprehended, the security officer told police.

Security watched Miller leave the store and take items out of his pocket and put them in his pickup, the report said. Miller then appeared to be heading back into the store when he turned around and took the trailer hitch off of another pickup and went back to his own vehicle.

Miller then drove to the nearby Mr. Tire, where police found him inside with a gun belt that had a pistol, two ammunition magazines, keys and a radio attached to it. Miller later told police that he had taken the gun belt out of his truck because he didn’t want to leave it in the vehicle while it was being worked on.

Police reported that Miller told them he had messed up and asked to talk to the victim.

When asked about shoplifting from Target, Miller denied taking anything. When he was asked if he would allow officers to search his truck, Miller told them to get a search warrant. After police told him the truck would be impounded until a warrant could be secured, Miller relented and agreed to let officers search the vehicle.

Inside the truck, police found cell phone accessories, half empty bottles of orange juice and Kamchatka vodka and an empty vodka bottle. The trailer hitch was in the bed of the pickup.

Miller told police that he and his wife are going through a divorce and his paycheck is deposited into their joint account and he only gets $100 per week to live on.

“He said that is part of the reason he stole, and the rest is because he had been drinking,” the report said.

The owner of the trailer hitch told police she only wanted her hitch back and left it up to officers whether to charge Miller, the report said. Miller had asked to be taken back to Target so he could talk to security and police reported that Target management decided not to pursue charges against Miller because the stolen merchandise had been recovered.

Miller’s gun belt was taken to the Amherst Police Department, his truck was left at Mr. Tire to be serviced and he was given a ride home. Police also warned him that if he got in trouble in the future he would be charged with stealing the trailer hitch and the cell phone accessories.

“Mr. Miller told me that this was a wakeup call for him and that instead of resorting to something criminal or just wrong, he would seek assistance from his friends, family or other professionals,” the report said.

Miller did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • TheDon Corleone

    he should have been charged.what a facking joke.

  • Mark

    “After police told him the truck would be impounded until a warrant could be secured”

    OK< wait a minute… can they impound it until they get a search warrant? If so, why have a warrant process? Sure seems like the civil liberities union would have a cow over this, and I'm sorta leaning that way too.

    Never underestimate a "smart" drunk.

    • Mark

      They didn’t even need a warrant, you fu*king moron. It’s the motor vehicle exception, which applies to even parked and towed vehicles. I’m sure the trailer hitch would have been in plain view anyway.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Very disappointed in the system after reading this article.

    • Smiles

      Hi Larry!!!

  • Mike wowk

    What BS! You or me take a pack of gum and we go to jail. A court officer has open containers of vodka, admits to drinking, is busted for 2 seperate thefts within 10 minutes and gets a ride home? WOW GREAT TO KNOW THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS COMPLETELY UNBIASED. Oh and I almost forgot that he was carrying a loaded gun under disability since he admitted to being under the influence enough to cloud his judgement enough to cause him to steal. Way to go cops… Better get out there and collect some road taxes by seting up a speed trap. WHAT SCUM BAGS! No wonder people hate cops and the court system.

  • Mike wowk

    Cant believe more people arent outraged by this….