A Manhattanite turned Miami glamazon who chronicled her pricey lifestyle on Instagram was sentenced to five years in federal prison today for a scheme in which she used other people's IDs to fraudulently obtain enough Covid-19 small-business and unemployment benefits - many via a scheme involving the Massachusetts RMV Web site - to support a lifestyle that included private-jet trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles and a luxury apartment, the US Attorney's office in Boston reports.
Danielle Miller, 32, who was proud enough of her scheme and even her time at Rikers for another offense to sit down for a New York Magazine interview following her arrest, pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in March.
The feds charged that Miller somehow obtained people's social-security numbers, then used that and their names to create new IDs via the MyRMV site - which she then used to get pandemic unemployment payments from Massachusetts and at least five other states. She also used the stolen IDs to obtain Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loans, at a time when those loans were mainly geared towards small companies hurt by the pandemic.
In all, the feds say, she stole $1.2 million in benefits, which she used for everything from a luxury apartment in Miami to private flights to shopping trips in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, all of which she posted about on her 32,000-follower Instagram feed. According to New York Magazine, when federal agents arrested her at her Miami apartment, she was recovering from butt-lift surgery.
According to an affidavit by a Homeland Security agent on the case, Miller's scheme began to unravel when an Abington resident got a $50 refund check from a Texas apartment-management company for canceling an apartment lease there. The company sent her a copy of her application, which showed she'd opened a TD Bank account.
Only problem: The resident, identified in the affidavit as L.M.S., never submitted a lease for an apartment in Texas and didn't have a TD Bank account, so she went to police, who contacted Homeland Security. When she talked to a Homeland Security agent, she said she'd also noticed that her MyRMV account listed a phone number that wasn't hers. Miller had used her information to obtain a $102,400 SBA loan in August, 2020.
In a sentencing memorandum to US District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor, prosecutors used the New York interview both to explain the need to punish Miller more severely than other Massachusetts Covid-19 fraudsters - the Beverly pizzeria owner turned Vermont alpaca farmer got two years - but not to punish her too much, and so asked the judge to agree to a five-year sentence worked out with her attorney.
The article, prosecutors wrote, showed Miller grew up in a privileged Manhattan home and attended an elite private school, so "she was afforded far more material
advantages in life than the vast majority of criminal defendants," but also, it detailed that she was quite proud of herself for all the schemes she pulled off, telling the interviewer (a friend of hers): "You know how they have that saying that you can sell ice to an Eskimo? If there’s something that I want, I’m getting it."
At the same time, prosecutors urged Saylor not to sentence her to more than five years, because one of the mitigating circumstances in her life, also detailed in the article, was when, as an eighth grader, she took nude videos of herself posing with a Swiffer mop and sent them to a boy who had dared her to prove she wasn't a prude - and he then sent them around to his friends and before long, she was the object of derision so deep and long lasting that even when tried to escape by going to Arizona State University, people there knew about "Swiffergate."
In his own sentencing memorandum, Miller's attorney said Miller has, at long last, realized the error of her ways:
In the period of time since the date of the offense, Ms. Miller has exhibited a strong sense of post-offense rehabilitation. She has accepted responsibility for her actions. Ms. Miller at 33 years old, understands the seriousness of her conduct and how it was inconsistent with her basic morality and behavior. To that end, she has sought to make amends with her family, the victims in this matter, the court, and most mportantly, with herself. While she is prepared to accept the court's punishment, she wants you to understand that she is at the crossroads of her life and will be returning to the righteous path upon which she previously traveled. She asks you to give her a chance. You will not be disappointed.
Ms. Miller has demonstrated an affirmative acceptance of responsibility for the offense. Ms. Miller is a decent woman who, owing to some poor decisions, was led into making a terrible choice about how to deal with her life situation.
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