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Colonial Cases

United States v. Miller, 1892


United States v. Miller

United States Consular Court, Kobe
29 December 1892
Source: North China Herald, 6 January, 1893

  The trial of Charles E. Miller for larceny was held in the United States Consular Court here yesterday, before Mr. E. J. Smithers, Consul and Judge. Prisoner pleaded guilty to the following indictment:
IN the United States Consular Court for Osaka and Hiogo, in the Empire of Japan.
  Alfred James Lines, Inspector of the Eastern branches of the China and Japan Trading Company, Limited, a corporation duly organised according to the law of the State of New York in the United States of America, on oath complains that Charles Edward Miller, a Citizen of the said United States, on the 6th day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two in the city of Kobe, Japan, and within the jurisdiction of the Court above named, then and there a large sum of money to wit the sum of eight thousand yens, otherwise known as dollars in local currency, the property of the said China and Japan Trading Company Limited, wrongfully and feloniously did steal, take and carry away of and from the said Company to its great loss and against the peace and dignity of the people of the United States of America.
  Wherefore the complainant herein charges the said Charles Edward Miller with the larceny in manner time and place aforesaid of the said property of the Company above named.
(Signed) A. J. Lines.
IN the Court of the United States Consulate for Osaka and Hiogo, Japan.
Sworn to and subscribed at Kobe before me this 28th day of December, 1892, and I certify that I have reasonable grounds for believing that the contents of the foregoing complaint are true.
(Signed) E. J. Smithers, &c.
  In this no mention is made of the defalcations committed whilst Miller was still serving the China and Japan Trading Company as accountant and cashier. The total amount appropriated to his own use is stated by the prisoner himself in a lengthy confession which was read before the Court to have been $28,000 or $30,000. The case is very clearly set forth in the evidence of Mr. A. J. Lines, Inspector of the C. and J. Trading Co.  He said:
  In February of 1892 I came here with this object, and I made an inspection of the Kobe branch of the Company, and found everything in order; and had occasion to comment very favourably on the accounts and work. On the 22nd September of this year, I received information from Mr. Posch, the Manager, that there was something wrong at the branch and he was afraid that Mr. Miller had absconded, and desired my presence immediately. I came, arriving here on the 7th day of October, and at once proceeded to investigate all that had occurred. The result of my investigation went to show that a long series of false entries had been made in our cash book by Miller and that these false entries covered up money that he had taken.
  I presume the Court will not desire me to go into the minutae but to mention the large amounts. I may say that the entries commenced in either February or March of this year. On Folio 12 there is an error made in addition of $1,000 by which Mr. Miller was able to take that sum. On the 1st day of April there is entered as paid for 200 kegs of Chlorate of Potash $3,601 and this entry was entirely false and he was enabled therefore to appropriate that sum.  On the 2nd day of June there was an amount paid over to him by Mr. McGlew, one of the assistants of the Company, a sum of $1,316.38.  This sum is nowhere entered and he was able therefore to appropriate this. On the 6th day of June he received in cash from one of the assistants of the company, Mr. Kawaguchi, our oil banto, $2,795.94, for 1,765 cases of oil which he did not enter in the cash book nor otherwise account for. Passing over many small items to which I have s worn in my affidavit before this Court - the affidavit I made before the Consul acting judicially - on June 29th he received from Mr. Kawaguchi $1,458.20 for 920 cases of oil, which sum is nowhere entered or accounted for. On the 9thJuly he entered as paid Hirata for scrolls $1,309.25; the sum actually paid was $139.25. For this item a further explanation is necessary.
  There are two vouchers, one for our invoice file, one for the cashier, and the cashier endorses upon this in English the amount of the receipt in Japanese. In doing this for this item he entered it as £1,309.25 when the amount actually paid was the sum previously named 139.25 only, whereby he obtained $1, 170. On the 26th day of July he entered as paid, acceptances for $14,397.97.  Such entry was entirely false, the acceptances having been previously entered for the same sum.
  If you think that is sufficient your Honour I will only raise one more point. On September 6th, the day of his leaving Kobe, he took from the safe a sum of $8,000.  .  .  .  
  The prisoner has confessed to me the majority of these acts. He came back to Kobe voluntarily and has done all in his power to make good to us the losses that we have sustained by his acts. The greater part of the money so wrongfully taken was remitted by him in sterling bills to a friend with instructions to hold the same subject to his order. It is the proceeds of these bills which he is assisting us to recover. This friend still holds those proceeds; and Mr. Miller has given to us the necessary powers and documents to enable us to recover the sum.
  The prosecution was in the hands of Mr. Alex. Tison, who certainly did not err on the side of harshness. The Judge sentenced Miller to four years' imprisonment in the United States Consular Gaol at Kanagawa.
Kobe, 30th December.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School