A Kenai man awaiting trial on 100 counts of possessing child pornography was arraigned in Kenai Superior Court on Thursday on 19 additional criminal counts, including evidence tampering charges.
Richard I. Miller, 64, who has been in Wildwood Pretrial Facility since surrendering to Kenai Police on April 4, allegedly telephoned a minor and Bo Armknecht from jail, asking them to remove files from his home and office computers respectively.
Miller is the owner of Wheels 4 Rent 4 Less in Soldotna.
When correctional facility officers heard the alleged solicitation, they contacted police who obtained a search warrant and seized Miller's computers.
According to charging documents, police found an additional 17 pornographic videos at Miller's residence. The new charges include two counts of solicitation of tampering with physical evidence and 17 counts of possession of child pornography.
Miller's attorney, James LaVecchia entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Miller, who was in court wearing a yellow prisoner uniform and handcuffs.
With the new charges, Judge Carl Bauman increased Miller's bail to $5,000 cash-only appearance and $25,000 cash-only performance, with a court-approved third party custodian required if Miller is released on bail before trial.
Assistant District Attorney Scot Leaders had sought to have the appearance bond raised to $10,000 and the performance bond raised to $50,000 saying the new evidence indicated Miller is a threat to society.
LaVecchia argued that the new charges "are not proof. These are allegations," he said.
Although Leaders said the newly discovered videos indicate Miller continued possessing child porn up to the time of his arrest, contrary to the defense assertion that the alleged criminal activity stopped months ago, LaVecchia said, "There is no proof that these are new occurrences."
He suggested investigators may have simply missed finding them during their previous search because the videos were taped to the bottom of dresser drawers.
LaVecchia also said, "Mr. Miller is not going anywhere. He can't raise the $10,000. His business is bankrupt."
Bauman said the additional charges "enhance the threat of flight risk."
He likened child pornography possession to illegal drug use. Although the accused believes he has no victims other than himself, he is "part of the chain" of the alleged criminal activity, Bauman said.
"If you're part of the chain -- there's no evidence the defendant took any of the pictures -- he is part of the chain and therefore a threat to the community," the judge said.
The previous case, involving the 100 counts of child porn possession, and the new case were combined by the court and Bauman set trial call for July 16 with a jury trial to begin July 21. He said LaVecchia would need to apply for a bail review hearing in the case.
Miller was returned to Wildwood.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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