A woman in an Ohio jail who refused to give police her name has been identified as a 40-year-old disbarred Virginia lawyer who fraudulently got a Maine birth certificate to procure Ohio state identification – ultimately leading to her arrest in that state.
Ann Marie Miller had schemed to conceal her identity from authorities, even repeatedly burning her fingertips so she could not be fingerprinted, according to Detective Gary Hook of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department in Lima, Ohio.
Her goal was to create a new identity, one she could use to attend law school and gain admission to a state bar under a different name, since she had been disbarred by the commonwealth of Virginia.
She also faces criminal charges in Colorado and Ohio, and could possibly face charges in Maine after her story is unraveled.
Miller was identified Friday after Ohio investigators contacted law enforcement authorities in Maine and other states in an effort to learn her identity.
Hook contacted the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday after Ohio officials searched her computer and found she had done online research into the process for extradition from Ohio to Kennebec County.
Hook said she found Maine a path to creating a new identity so she could resume her legal career.
“She researched the delayed birth certificate process and was able to locate it in Maine – how to get a delayed birth certificate – and that’s why she chose Maine,” Hook told the Morning Sentinel on Friday.
Miller, who has been in the Allen County Jail since July 9, got a Maine birth certificate from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Water Street in Augusta under the name Julia Bay Wadsworth, Hook said. She came to Maine last year to get the certificate, which was issued Nov. 1, he said.
PROSECUTION IN MAINE POSSIBLE
John Martins, spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said Friday he could not immediately comment on how Miller managed to fraudulently get a birth certificate in Maine.
“We are going to have to research this,” Martins said.
Miller has been charged in Ohio with tampering with public records and may also be charged with obstructing justice, obtaining welfare and medical services fraudulently and aggravated forgery, according to Hook. He said he is working with an assistant district attorney at the Kennebec County district attorney’s office in Augusta.
District Attorney Maeghan Maloney confirmed Friday that an Ohio detective spoke with an assistant district attorney in her office. She said if her office has a case against Miller, she will be prosecuted.
“At this point, we don’t have anything in our system that says we have an open case, but we are getting her birth certificate so that we will be able to research that further,” Maloney said. “It may be that she used a different name.”
Miller is wanted in Colorado for charges including burglary, possession of burglary tools, trespassing, criminal mischief, felony marijuana cultivation, assault and tampering with a vehicle identification number, according to Hook. She is not wanted in Virginia, he said.
Before moving to Ohio earlier this year, Miller worked under the name Julia Wadsworth in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, where she cared for an elderly man who eventually died, Hook said. In Ohio, she was caring for a 95-year-old woman when she was arrested on charges that she used false information – the Maine birth certificate – to try to get a state identification card.
When searching her computer, officials discovered she had also researched information on the destruction and healing of fingertips as a way to obscure fingerprints.
She initially told authorities she was born in Maine, but no information about her birth was ever recorded in Bangor, which she claimed as her birthplace.
Hook was born in California, Hook said, making Maine all the more attractive for her ruse.
“If you’re going to make up a fake self, what better way to do it than to go to the opposite side of the country?” Hook said.
He said Miller’s parents are dead and she has a half sister with whom she has no contact.
Miller earned a law degree in 2006 from Appalachian School of Law in Virginia and was admitted to practice law in that state in 2007. According to Virginia State Bar records, she agreed to revocation of her license to practice law in 2009 and was disbarred.
DISBARRED IN VIRGINIA
She was disbarred for mishandling bankruptcy cases and failure to refund fees, according to the Virginia state bar disciplinary board.
After Ohio officials on Monday contacted the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department for help with the case, Kennebec County officials distributed fliers to law enforcement in Maine that contained Miller’s photo and description. Ohio officials also enlisted the help of news media and law enforcement in Florida and Virginia. On Thursday, officials in Lima got an anonymous tip from someone in Florida who saw a newspaper story and identified the woman as Miller, according to Hook.
Hook said Miller was apparently involved in a love triangle in Virginia in which an attorney she was involved with left her for a paralegal.
When authorities in Lima were trying to persuade Miller to reveal her true identify, they showed her photographs of that lawyer and paralegal and asked if she knew them. She claimed that she did not, according to Hook.
“Today when we brought her in for her final interview, she came clean, with her attorney present,” Hook said Friday.
He said when authorities finally identified her and told her they knew who she was, she reacted with “total shock.”
“She was completely shocked – and instant denial,” he said.
He described the case as unlike any other he has encountered.
FACING OHIO, COLORADO TRIALS
“This is the most frustrating case I think I’ve ever worked,” he said. “Trying to find a person that doesn’t exist is rough. The information’s rough. The amount of dead leads you chase is frustrating and it’s time-consuming and energy-draining. Nobody in this area has had anything this bizarre.”
Miller will be tried in Ohio and then go to Colorado to face charges there. If the Kennebec County district attorney presses charges, she may also face trial in Maine.
Hook declined to reveal how she burned her fingertips to obscure her fingerprints except to say chemicals were used over a period of several months. He didn’t say whether her attempt was successful.
Asked why she tried so hard to conceal her identity, he said it was for two reasons. “One, she didn’t want to go to jail and second, she wanted to reinvent herself to go back to law school.”
He said a therapist in the jail determined Miller was mentally stable. Her state of mind, now that her secret has been revealed, is subdued, according to Hook.
“I think she’s a little depressed, but kind of accepting it – accepting we know who she is,” he said.