The sexual abuse case of an Inwood man took a bizarre turn Thursday when prosecutors accused the man of trying to hire a hit man from jail to kill his alleged teenage victim, Nassau County authorities said.
Daniel Miller was indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy and criminal solicitation.
The 45-year-old pleaded not guilty to the new charges Thursday and bail was set at $5 million cash of $2.5 million bond.
Miller, the owner of Santeria religious supply store in Inwood, has been held at Nassau County jail since his arrest in April for criminal sexual act and other charges after he allegedly drugged and sexually abused his 17-year-old male employee.
“There’s only one witness in the sex case and that’s the victim,” Dt. Let. John May, commanding officer of the District Attorney’s squad told reporters at a news conference. “With him gone, the case against [Miller] would fall apart, and he believed by getting rid of the victim he would be a free man.”
Miller’s Mineola-based attorney, Joseph Conway, disputed the charges against his client.
“At the appropriate time when the facts come out I think it will show that Mr. Miller clearly had no intent to harm any witness whatsoever,” he told the Press.
“We believe that those charges have no merit to it,” he added. “To now claim that he’s engaged in a murder-for-hire plot when he was completely confident in his innocence [on sexual abuse charges] just doesn’t make any sense.”
The latest twist in the case came in June when a confidential informant told Nassau detectives that he had been approached by Miller’s relatives to visit Miller in jail, which he did, prosecutors said.
That’s when Miller allegedly asked the source to arrange to have the alleged sexual abuse victim killed, and told him to visit Miller’s home to get information about the victim.
The informant met with two of Miller’s family members, who provided him with the target’s personal information, police said.
The informant then reported the murder-for-hire plot to police. He later met Miller in jail again and “his plan was to pay the source $15,000 to have the [victim] done away with, or murdered during the course of a robbery of his cell phone,” May said.
Officials said Miller’s mother, a secretary at Lawrence High School, stole the victim’s information from the school.
“It’s a very disturbing case,” May said. “The original sex crime case was disturbing enough but with the intention of Miller to do away with his victim, it’s shocking.”
In another unusual twist, police learned that prior to the alleged murder-for-hire plot that Miller, a believer and practitioner of Santeria, according to authorities, allegedly tried to have the witness killed through voodoo, officials said.
“[Miller] believed by casting a spell on the voodoo doll that he could induce cancer in his victim,” May said.
He asked a family member to have an unidentified man make a voodoo doll of the victim and stick pins and knives into it, police said. Soil from the victim’s house was also taken to help with the spell, officials said.
May said that it’s “possible” that there could be more arrests related to the murder-for-hire plot.
Miller is due back in court Aug. 1.