Baltimore County police have arrested Robert Franklin Miller, a controversial businessman who has claimed to be a lawyer, chiropractor and world karate record holder, and charged him with stealing cars brought to his auto shop for repair or sale and with selling cars without titles.
Mr. Miller, 41, was charged with theft after several incidents involving his unlicensed auto sales and repair business. The shop, in the 7200 block of Windsor Mill Road in Woodlawn, closed this year.
The business, called Brickyard Auto Traders, shut down about three months ago after police arrested Mr. Miller on charges that he stole cars he was supposed to repair or sell for customers and stole money from others who bought cars without titles. In one case, he is accused of taking $5,000 from a couple who bought a car he never delivered.
Mr. Miller was arrested Monday and released from the Baltimore County Detention Center Thursday night on $25,000 bail. An Aug. 8 trial date has been set in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
James Lang, spokesman for the state's Motor Vehicle Administration, said Mr. Miller has no auto dealer's license. MVA is investigating "10 to 12 complaints" from former customers of his auto business.
Mr. Miller's lawyer, Steven Sindler, said his client has pleaded innocent to all the charges.
"We don't believe he's done anything wrong," he added. "We feel the charges are civil in nature against him because we believe they are contractual not criminal."
One of Mr. Miller's alleged victims, Thelma R. Neal, a 53-year-old nurse from Northwest Baltimore, said she lost three cars to Mr. Miller last September.
One, a van with a wheelchair lift she used to transport her patients, disappeared after she took it to Mr. Miller's shop for a power steering repair, she said. Another, a Volvo, disappeared after she gave Mr. Miller the title when he assured her he had a buyer, she said. But she said she never got the money from the sale.
A third car, a red Buick she wanted to sell, disappeared from his lot before she could remove it herself, she said.
Ms. Neal said she was so angry about losing her cars that she and another alleged victim tracked Mr. Miller down at his girlfriend's Inner Harbor condominium last September and alerted police to arrest him on an outstanding warrant.
"He told me he was a licensed car dealer. He had certificates in his office and said he was a doctor of something," she said.
Mr. Miller has had a series of criminal charges placed against him in recent years.
A year ago he was convicted in Anne Arundel Circuit Court of stealing furniture, liquor and food from an Annapolis restaurant he no longer owned. He also displayed a law degree and chiropractor's certificate in his Annapolis office, but police said he was neither a lawyer nor a chiropractor.
Court records show Mr. Miller has been charged with driving on a suspended license and driving while intoxicated during the last year.
Recently he surfaced in Fells Point, passing out business cards reading, "American Health Services Inc. -- Dr. Robert Miller, President and CEO," according to LaDonna Puryear, president of the Eastern, Dallas, Bond Streets Association, a community group in Fells Point. She said Mr. Miller rented a building in the 1500 block of Eastern Ave. a few months ago.
He first erected a sign for a soon-to-be-opened medical clinic offering acupuncture, chiropractic services, massage and drug testing.
After a few weeks, however, the medical clinic sign came down. It was replaced with notices offering Hap Ki Do and tae kwon do self-defense classes, featuring "World Karate Record Holder Bob Miller."
Friday, Mr. Miller, at the Fells Point karate studio, refused to discuss his karate credentials or answer other questions about the criminal charges in Baltimore County.