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Carlton man pleads guilty to possession of counterfeit bills

A Carlton man accused of making and passing counterfeit money in addition to other crimes, pleaded guilty to a number of charges Monday in Carlton County Court.

Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller

A Carlton man accused of making and passing counterfeit money in addition to other crimes, pleaded guilty to a number of charges Monday in Carlton County Court.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Aaron David Miller, 27, pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor charges of possessing counterfeit money as well as felony counterfeiting "having means for false reproduction," while charges of printing/manufacturing counterfeit money were dismissed. He also pleaded guilty to fifth-degree drug possession and misdemeanor domestic assault. A theft charge -- for allegedly shoplifting printer ink from Wal-Mart April 26 -- was dismissed, but Miller still has to pay restitution, his attorney Terri Port Wright explained. The sentences are expected to run concurrently (at the same time), Port Wright said, noting that sentencing is set for July 15.

Three different Carlton County assistant attorneys -- each with a different area of expertise -- worked on Miller's five different sets of charges: James Ross, Michael Boese and Jesse Berglund. All three welcomed the settlement, after multiple delays in the case and additional crimes each time Miller was released from jail.

Eleven days before, the trio of prosecuting attorneys had asked Judge Robert Macaulay to place Miller in custody again and/or raise the bail amount because he continued to offend.

"This individual has charges of possessing and manufacturing counterfeit currency, which are considered serious felonies," Ross said during the May 9 hearing, when Port Wright requested the settlement conference be continued. "He's also charged with possessing heroin and meth. When he was brought to the hospital, he escaped from St. Louis County. He has multiple charges here and in St. Louis County, yet he walks free."

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Monday's plea bargain was only the beginning of Miller's legal accountings.

He also faces probation violation charges in Olmsted County, as well as counterfeiting and escape from custody charges in St. Louis County.

The most recent complaint filed in Carlton County contained an account of the incidents leading to many of Miller's charges:

On Dec. 1, 2012, the Cloquet Police Department learned that Miller was involved in passing counterfeit United States currency; they later learned that Miller had been producing $100, $50, and $20 U.S. bills using an HP printer/copier. Miller had also been passing counterfeit money in both Carlton and St. Louis counties.

On Dec. 19, officers obtained a search warrant for Miller's residence on Highway 210 in Carlton County. They found the printer/copier, resume paper and a copied $100 and $20 bill. Officers also discovered where Miller was burning the remaining paper after cutting out the counterfeit bill from the resume paper. They also found fishing line and clips used in drying the copied counterfeit currency.

When officers interviewed Miller, the complaint states, he admitted to manufacturing and using approximately $6,000 in counterfeit currency. All of the $20 bills surrendered had the serial number of IB79466761E.

Miller faces the escape from custody charges in St. Louis County because he was transported to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth on Jan. 6 for care after becoming sick while in custody there. During his time at the hospital, he walked away from the hospital despite the fact he had been ordered to remain there until he was picked up by Carlton County sheriff's deputies for a Jan. 9 court appearance. At that time, Judge Wolf issued a warrant for Miller's arrest.

According to a complaint filed in St. Louis County on Jan. 11, officers received a call from a male who told them he was staying at the Grand Motel in Duluth and there was a male named Aaron in his hotel room. The informant said the man had told him he was wanted by law enforcement, had warrants against him, and that he had counterfeit currency on him.

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Officers responded to the motel room and were allowed inside. At that time they identified Miller, despite the fact he had shaved his head and was not wearing glasses as he had in the past.

When Duluth police officers prepared to take Miller into custody, he indicated that a black duffle bag on the floor was his. During the execution of a search warrant, officers located nine counterfeit $100 bills on Miller and another in the black duffle bag. Also inside the bag were a paper cutter, a ream of manila-colored paper, a computer printer ink cartridge, a ledger, a piece of paper with a cutout of a counterfeit bill, scissors, a long blonde wig, an Essentia Hospital patient band with Miller's name on it, four hypodermic needles, a tourniquet and other miscellaneous items.

An attempt in February to have all Miller's cases heard by one judge in either Carlton County or St. Louis County failed, leading to a legal impasse that Ross called "unacceptable."

"St. Louis County is waiting for us to resolve our cases," Ross said, adding that Olmsted County couldn't convict Miller of probation violation if neither Carlton nor St. Louis counties resolved their cases.

Port Wright said she didn't know the exact length of sentence her client will receive until after the pre-sentence investigation is complete. She stated that sentencing for most of the St. Louis County charges are also expected to run concurrently with the Carlton County sentences. However, the state mandates that escape from custody charges run a year and day consecutive to any other charges.

She also confirmed that Miller will go to prison. He is not eligible to go to the Northeast Regional Corrections Center because of the escape.

Related Topics: CARLTONCRIME
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