Updated March 27, 2019 - 2:01 pm
Las Vegas mayoral candidate Mack Miller’s business dealings are under scrutiny by the Nevada secretary of state’s office, yet on Tuesday he downplayed the investigation as a “major misunderstanding.”
State officials have demanded Miller stop operating a document-preparation business they say is illegal and to comply with a court order to return more than $50,000 to a former client, court filings show.
In a cease-and-desist order sent to Miller in May, the secretary of state’s office said he accepted a $65,800 check from a client who believed Miller was an attorney, for deposit into the trust account for a deceased woman’s son.
The office said Miller instead deposited the check into his business bank account and, as of November, had not returned $52,300. The ex-client, whose consumer complaint spurred the probe, obtained a court order requiring Miller to pay up.
“That came out of left field,” Miller said Tuesday of the accusation.
He referred questions to Mitchell Posin, the attorney representing him in a lawsuit filed in November by the secretary of state’s office. Posin did not immediately return a message Tuesday.
The investigation found Miller, 42, violated the law by not registering his business, M&A Legal Management, yet still assisted clients in legal matters and presented himself online as authorized to perform such work.
But Miller denies running a document-preparation service: “We don’t. This is actually simple. I operate as a consulting company,” he said.
Launched in January 2014, M&A Legal Management also never obtained a state business license and thus was not authorized to conduct any business in Nevada, according to the secretary of state’s office. Miller did file as a sole proprietor in May 2017, in response to the investigation, but did not renew that filing after a year, according to the office.
State business records show that M&A Legal Management, which state officials said had billed itself online as “a dynamic, full service business and personal consulting firm that serves both domestic and international clients,” is a revoked entity, and state officials said its status hasn’t changed since 2015.
“Revoked doesn’t meant those companies did anything wrong,” Miller said, only that the owner chose not to revive a default corporation.
He claimed his business had been properly licensed with records on file, describing the confusion as a result of the knottiness of fictitious business names and multiple partners, noting he has since started fresh with Miller & Associates Consulting to avoid further complication.
“We’re strategically renovating to clarify our brand,” his under-construction website, MillersLegal.com, read on Tuesday. He said he has filed paperwork for Miller & Associates, but state business records showed Tuesday no active license for that business. However, a search of state records did find a valid sole proprietorship business license for Miller. The license expires in May.
The investigation, Miller claimed, was retaliatory and pointed to a lawsuit he filed last year while he was running for the Assembly as the motivation. He sued his victorious challenger, Jason Burke, for late campaign disclosures and the secretary of state’s office joined the legal fight to overturn a judge’s subsequent ruling to void the election.
Secretary of state spokeswoman Jennifer Russell said the investigation was prompted by the consumer complaint in May 2017 and nothing more.
Cease and desist
Miller was ordered in May to cease and desist from “all document preparation service activity,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Review-Journal. Yet six months later, he had not responded — Miller said he never received the correspondence — so the secretary of state’s office sued him in District Court.
In the lawsuit, which remains unsettled, the office is seeking an injunction prohibiting Miller from running M&A Legal Management until he returns the ex-client’s money, pays more than $15,000 in civil penalties and properly registers and licenses the company he says he no longer runs, court records show.
The secretary of state’s office maintains only civil jurisdiction as a remedy, said Gail Anderson, the deputy secretary of Southern Nevada. She could not disclose whether the office referred the matter to an agency for criminal review.
Discovery in the case is expected to last through August, according to a joint status conference filing from February.
Miller deserted his fellow Army soldiers on the front lines during the height of the Iraq War and was found guilty of desertion by a military court, the Review-Journal reported in June when Miller was a candidate for state Assembly.
Then a private first class, Miller was sentenced to 18 months confinement, a demotion to private and a bad conduct discharge, documents showed.
Miller rejected the idea that he deserted fellow soldiers, saying he was on a 14-day mandatory “rest and relaxation” leave when a sergeant emailed him to say “don’t bother coming back.” Miller could not recall who sent the email or produce a copy.
“Nobody’s going to stop me from doing the good that I know that I can do,” Miller said Tuesday about his efforts to become the next mayor of Las Vegas. “And nobody’s going to stop the good I have already done.”
This story has been updated to include the fact that Miller has obtained a sole proprietorship license from the state.
April 2017: Mack Miller’s former client sues in District Court, claiming he deposited $65,800 check into business bank account that was meant for trust account for deceased woman’s son. He reportedly only returns $13,000.
May 2017: Consumer complaint received by secretary of state’s office, which begins investigating.
May 2018: Former client wins judgement for $52,300.
November 2018: Secretary of state’s office sues Miller in District Court seeking M&A Legal Management to cease operating without proper registration and licensing and to compel Miller to comply with May court ruling.
Source: District court records