GOUVERNEUR Christopher A. Miller, the mayor-elect and a convicted felon, says he has made no secret of either his criminal past or his support for an expanded police department.
I made mistakes in the past. Ive learned from them and theyve made me a better person. I have nothing to hide, said Mr. Miller, who takes office Monday. Im very much a person for the community. Police have a job.
Part of Mr. Millers successful campaign against Dorothy L. Vorce was his desire for a revitalized police department, which was cut heavily in recent years. He said he believes the department should be staffed enough to provide 24-hour coverage, seven days a week.
He had the support of some aligned with the department, including retired sergeant Mark H. Ashley, who once arrested Mr. Miller on bad check charges, and who had one of his campaign signs in his yard. Neither Mr. Ashley nor Police Chief David C. Whitton could be reached for comment.
Mr. Miller, who is on probation, said support for him should come as no surprise.
What Im doing is for the betterment of the village, he said. I love the place I live.
Mr. Miller said he thinks many village residents knew of his criminal background before they elected him and he would have answered questions about it had anyone asked him.
I was voted in by people who know me and know who I am, he said.
But some from his past find it hard to believe he could have won the election if all of his dealings were known.
I would not want someone running my town with forgery charges, said J. Bryan Arnette, Tampa, Fla. Double, triple and quadruple check your numbers and your accounts.
Mr. Arnette said Mr. Miller was a roommate of his and his partner, Jason Smith, in 2003 and 2004 in Wilmington, N.C., where he said Mr. Miller traded them for rent a car that turned out to be stolen. He said Mr. Miller opened accounts in the names of his friends and was arrested on a cocaine charge.
According to a North Carolina Department of Corrections document, Mr. Miller had misdemeanor counts of driving while license revoked, a felony count of possession of a schedule II drug and a felony count of forgery for which he served probation.
Mr. Arnette said he and Mr. Smith have not seen a dime of the approximately $4,000 he owes them.
I had to get a restraining order against him, Mr. Arnette said.
Locally, there are judgments of $4,036 against Mr. Miller and his partner, Dylan T. Liebenow, filed by George J. Ablan Sr., West Carthage, and against Mr. Miller of $1,096.80 from MX Fuels, Massena.
Mr. Miller said he will not have direct access to village funds, which are controlled by the treasurer, so could not take money even if he wanted to.
He was arrested in 2008 on a felony count of grand larceny, in which village police alleged he wrote five checks totaling $5,066 on a closed account at Gouverneur Savings & Loan. He allegedly deposited them into a different account and withdrew the money from automated teller machines. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of petit larceny and paid restitution.
In January 2010, Mr. Miller was sentenced in Jefferson County Court to three years of probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service for pleading guilty to second-degree criminal trespass and petit larceny. He admitted that he unlawfully entered the town of LeRay apartment of Heather Zrnick and took money without her permission. His probation supervision was transferred to St. Lawrence County.
Mr. Miller said he knew when he decided to run for public office that his crimes would come up and he is prepared to face his critics.
Ive done stupid stuff. Thats gone, he said. Im not going anywhere.