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A sentencing hearing for a former Democratic state representative who admitted to embezzling from the Salt Lake County mayor's campaign was delayed Friday after the judge disclosed a conflict.
Justin Miller, 35, pleaded guilty in October to one count of second-degree-felony communications fraud for taking nearly $25,000 from the campaign coffers of Ben McAdams.
The crime carries a possible punishment of up to 15 years in prison, but Miller likely will have to wait until 2016 to learn his fate.
Before Friday's 3rd District Court hearing, Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman disclosed that her husband is employed as the accounting director for Salt Lake County.
Karl Goodman will retire in a week, the judge said, but she offered Davis County prosecutors and Miller's attorney the option of having the case reassigned to a judge without a similar conflict which they did.
The case will now go to the presiding judge for the district, who will reassign the case to a new judge. It wasn't immediately clear Friday how long that might take.
The delay may give Deputy Davis County Attorney Steve Major and defense attorney Steve Shapiro more time to resolve a dispute about the amount of restitution owed in the case.
In a letter filed with the court earlier this week, McAdams reportedly asked for nearly $80,000 in restitution an amount far higher than the roughly $25,000 Miller, his former campaign manager, said he took.
The McAdams letter has been sealed by the court, but the Davis County Attorney's Office and Miller's attorney confirmed the dispute Thursday.
Miller agreed to pay an unspecified amount of restitution as part of his plea deal and expected the amount to mirror the figure detailed in the criminal charges, Shapiro said Thursday.
"They have requested an amount," he said, "which we think wildly exceeds the amount of appropriate restitution."
The amount reportedly stems from the findings by forensic accountants hired by McAdams, Shapiro said.
But the findings of the criminal investigation of Miller, he noted, never pointed to more than the single financial transaction a purported reimbursement for a campaign catering bill that prosecutors charged.
"We have never and will never acknowledge conduct involving financial transactions that exceed the amount of the catering transaction," Shapiro said.
Major declined Friday to provide any details of the expenses enumerated in the McAdams restitution request.
McAdams was not in court, although his wife, Julie McAdams, attended the hearing and had planned to make a statement to the judge. She declined to comment on either the delay or the restitution issue.
Miller was accused of writing a check to himself from the campaign for nearly $25,000 to cover a campaign expense he planned to pay for with his American Express card.
When the caterer refused to take American Express, Miller wrote the company another check from the campaign's account, but he did not repay the funds he had taken for himself.