Financial schemes are so common in Miami that not even one of the area's most respected research institutions is safe from a fraud's sticky fingers.
The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the University of Miami's highly regarded Virginia Key-based oceanography school, lost $2.3 million to a decade's worth of embezzlement. The person behind the scheme: the institute's own 58-year-old former director of finance, Kimberly Jean Miller.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, Miller's duties at the school included ensuring that all vendors were paid. In 2002, Miller decided to began paying herself a little extra as well.
Miller would falsify invoices from a company called International Assets and changed the name to "Inter Inc." Meanwhile, Miller operated a bank account under the name Intercontinental Oceans Inc., a company she set up in 1993.
Miller would cut checks to "Inter Inc." and then have them sent back to the RSMAS campus from UM's main Coral Gables campus. She then deposited the money into her own Intercontinental Oceans bank account. According to Florida business records, Intercontinental Oceans Inc. was headquartered at a home in Kendall just off Sunset Drive at the time it was established. Miller owned that home until 1995.
Meanwhile, between 2008 and 2011, Miller prepared her own taxes and failed to report the income she had embezzled.
She has now pleaded guilty to four counts of tax evasion. She'll be sentenced in August and faces up to five years in prison on each count.
She's also on the hook for $329,020 in back taxes.