Nelson Miller has opted to withdraw his guilty plea and face a federal jury trial on 16 felony counts of defrauding lenders, five years after the FBI raided his Little Rock mortgage brokerage, Freedom Financial Services.
Miller notified U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes of his decision on Friday, but no trial date had been set as of Monday morning.
Miller had pleaded guilty in August to two misdemeanor counts, but when his sentencing date arrived on Jan. 29, he and his attorney, Gary Corum of Little Rock, argued that they been duped into agreeing to terms they hadn't meant to accept.
Holmes agreed with prosecutors that Miller had to either go through with his agreement or withdraw his plea and face trial on the original charges. He gave Miller a week to hire a lawyer who wasn't involved in the plea negotiation for advice, and Miller hired Fayetteville attorney John Everett.
But it was Corum who submitted Miller's two-sentence notice to the court: "Pursuant to the Court's Order of February 26, 2007 Nelson Miller respectfully informs the Court that he wishes to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial. Nelson Miller further respectfully expresses appreciation to the Court for allowing him the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice in connection with his decision."
Miller, sole proprietor of Freedom Financial and star of its intensive television advertising campaign, was one of nine people indicted in connection with dozens of loan originations that were polished to look more creditworthy. Miller and seven others made plea deals. The eighth defendant, Bertram Case "Casey" Miller (no relation to Nelson Miller) went to trial in August and was convicted on four felony charges. Both Millers were supposed to be sentenced on Jan. 29, but Nelson Miller's change of heart resulted in a delay in Casey Miller's sentencing.
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