For Baltimore County Detective Lynne Shifren, the papers she discovered while investigating a Stevenson couple's sports bookmaking operation in 1991 were like betting on a long shot -- and winning.
She and other officers, pursuing a tip that Irving and Gail Miller were running a big-time betting operation, found a rough draft of what was to become the couple's last will and testament. The draft was a veritable road map to their cash-stuffed safe-deposit boxes -- and the keys to unlock them.
That lucky find helped to add $157,000 to Baltimore County's beleaguered treasury this week, based on a compromise agreement with the Millers under which the county gets to keep all but $50,000 of the $207,000 that police found in those boxes.
The rest will be returned to the couple, based on a claim Mrs. Miller made that $78,000 of the cash was actually an inheritance from her father, the late Joseph I. Paper, a former Maryland workers' compensation commissioner.
Finding the rough draft of the Millers' wills was "something that will never happen again in my career," Detective Shifren joked this week.
She said that Mr. Miller, 45, a former Baltimore City police officer who resigned in 1974 after being charged with gambling, acted "like a nice guy," when officers went to serve search warrants on the couple's Stevenson home and Owings Mills pet food business.
Mr. Miller told the police, in fact, that he had been a bookie for years, according to the detectives' reports. He and his wife received probation before judgment on two gambling charges after a District Court trial in September 1991.
Mr. Miller declined any comment on the case, as did his wife and their attorney, Barry S. Frame.
According to police records, an FBI expert who reviewed extensive documents seized at the Millers' home estimated that the bookmaking operation grossed $1 million a year.