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Miller time: Former Bucks County Playhouse owner handed relatively light sentence for insurance fraud

(Photo: Pocono Record/Woodstock Playhouse)

(Photo: Pocono Record/Woodstock Playhouse)

Former Bucks County Playhouse owner Ralph Miller, convicted of insurance fraud, was sentenced Monday in a Philadelphia federal court to 30 months in prison, along with 36 months of supervised release, by Judge Cynthia Rufe.

The first 12 months of the supervised release will be under home confinement, according to Special Agent Edward Manning of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division.

Miller was also ordered to pay a $200 fine, and restitution in the amount of $239,875.62 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

He had faced up to 30 years in prison. But considering that maximum sentences are rarely handed down, a source close to the investigation said, “In this district, 30 months for a white collar crime, plus another 36 months of supervision, is a pretty good sentence.”

Miller was found guilty in May 2015 by a federal jury of filing fraudulent insurance claims in the aftermath of a 2006 Delaware River flood that soaked the historic Bucks County Playhouse.

The trial followed years of delays, postponements, and superseding charges. The criminal case was tried in the Federal Court of the Eastern District in Philadelphia.

flooded bucks county playhouse new hope free pressMiller lost the theater to a bank in 2010, and was charged with mail fraud and money laundering in 2011 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia (U.S. vs. Ralph Miller). The prosecution alleged that Miller submitted false claims for approximately $200,000 in lighting that he reportedly said was damaged in the flood (Miller’s insurance company paid him $184,000 for the lighting out of a total $905,000 award).

The money laundering charge appears to derive from cashing the fraudulently-obtained insurance checks, according to documents filed in the case.

According to the complaint, Miller also filed fraudulent theft claims as owner of the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome, which was destroyed by fire in 2009. Miller owned the Bucks County Playhouse for more than 30 years before defaulting on mortgage payments in 2010. He also owned the Woodstock Playhouse in New York, destroyed in a 1988 fire, and the Falmouth Playhouse on Cape Cod, Mass., destroyed by a 1994 fire.

(Revised 4:30 p.m. to include source reaction to sentence)

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Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • I worked as an entertainer/employee of this man. He was a crook and a very dangerous man to work for. This does not provide near enough justice for the kind of fraud and illegal activity he ran for decades. That he would trash a historical presence in the area where hundreds of famous stars for years and years were able to perform in and provide the community with such great theatrical experiences is sickening. My hats off to the new owners of the Bucks County Theater for putting sweat and effort unto its legacy for the better. The sentencing took too long and is not near stringent enough.

  • Steal a cool $mil from an insurance company (I’m not counting all the other insurance thefts by arson which would bring the total to at least a few $million). Get 10 months of easy time, catch up on your reading, lose some weight, hit the gym. Free room and board and top quality healthcare. Where can I get this deal?

  • As Yogi Berra said,”it ain’t over till it’s over.” According to the article, ” Former Playhouse owner Ralph Miller Sentenced” in this week’s “Bucks County Herald”, page D4, “There is still an ongoing investigation into one of his playhouses where there is suspected arson. Miller has denied any involvement and has not been charged with arson. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is still investigating.”

  • Not nearly long enough, but considering this was the charge they got him on I guess it’s to be expected.

    All signs point to a history of arson – sheer greed leading to burning down historic properties, endangering the lives of firefighters, endangering surrounding properties, and bilking the insurance companies who in turn jack up premiums on the rest of us to cover the money being lost to his greed.

    This town needs to be grateful the playhouse ended up revived by great new owners – had it still been in Miller’s ownership, it might well be a pile of ash today.

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