Prosecutor drops charges against restaurateur

January 12, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Conspiracy charges against an Annapolis restaurateur who claimed to be a chiropractor were dropped yesterday by a prosecutor who cited a judge's pretrial ruling and a lack of evidence.

Conspiracy charges against Robert Franklin Miller, 40, were dismissed yesterday by Anne Arundel County Assistant State's Attorney Robert J. Bittman.

Mr. Miller remained in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center on a breaking and entering charge.

The conspiracy charge was based on allegations that Mr. Miller was planning to set up a phony diploma mill for would-be chiropractors out of his Annapolis offices.

Mr. Bittman said yesterday that without records seized from Mr. Miller's office, ruled inadmissible by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams three weeks ago, he lacked sufficient evidence to try the case.

Mr. Miller, known in the Annapolis area as "Dr. Bob," will still be tried next month on charges that he broke into the Annapolis restaurant he once owned and took almost everything that wasn't nailed down -- with Annapolis police looking on.

But Mr. Bittman said the conspiracy case was dealt a fatal blow Dec. 20 when Judge Williams ruled that 44 boxes of evidence confiscated in a June 21, 1993, raid of Mr. Miller's West Street offices could not be used in his trial.

Judge Williams ruled the search warrant was too vague to meet constitutional guarantees against illegal searches.

District Judge Michael E. Loney, who signed the state police search warrant, declined comment yesterday, saying he didn't remember the warrant.

Mr. Bittman said the confiscated records would have shown that Mr. Miller planned to persuade unsuspecting students to send tuition of $4,000 to $5,000 to Mr. Miller for training at the Washington Chiropractic College, a school he planned to set up with no campus, no teachers and no classrooms.

Mr. Bittman said he could have had the 14 people he listed in pretrial court papers as potential witnesses testify.

But without office memos, correspondence and other records, Mr. Miller's attorneys could have questioned why there was no paperwork supporting the witnesses' allegations.

"Other people knew about it and could have testified to what was involved, but it would have been uncorroborated by any records, anything on paper," Mr. Bittman said.

Anne Arundel County Public Defender Alan R. Friedman, one of Mr. Miller's attorneys, said yesterday that even with the office records, there was never any proof a crime was committed.

"This case amounted to nothing more than an overactive imagination on the part of the police and the prosecution," Mr. Friedman said.

He said he plans to seek a reduction in bond for Mr. Miller, who remained held yesterday on $150,000 bond.

Assistant Public Defender Robert Waldman, his co-counsel, said the records that were ruled inadmissible would have shown that Mr. Miller was setting up a legitimate agency to test and certify chiropractors.

Mr. Miller had a chiropractor's certificate on his office desk, authorities said.

But Mr. Miller, who was known to make spinal adjustments to the backs of waitresses and friends at his restaurant, known as Dr. Bob's 911 Club, was not licensed as a chiropractor, according to state records.

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