(Editor’s Note: Miller was later given one year of probation. He says the charges were “technical” and that forced labor accusations against him were dropped by prosecutors)
The president and founder of a Marion-based Christian Bible college is facing possible prison time after pleading guilty in federal court Wednesday.
R. Wayne Miller entered the guilty plea on charges of Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting, Visa Fraud, and violating minimum wage laws. Prosecutors with the US Justice Department said the president of Cathedral Bible College recruited foreign students to attend the small school in Marion through false representations and promises regarding the employment.
Prosecutors also said Miller made material false statements under penalty of perjury on the related immigration documents for these student employees.
The charges were filed after a criminal complaint with the federal Homeland Security Investigations agency claimed Miller had intimidated those foreign student employees into working for extremely low wages. However, Wednesday’s guilty plea did not accuse Miller of any forced labor crimes.
As a condition for his release on bond in May, Miller agreed not to set foot on the college’s campus or interact with foreign students at the school.
The maximum penalty for Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting is 5 years in prision and/or a fine of $250,000, the maximum penalty for Visa Fraud is15 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000, and the maximum penalty for Wage and Hour Violations is imprisonment for 6 years and/or a fine of $10,000. U.S. District Judge R. Bryan Harwell will sentence Miller at a later date.
Cathedral Bible College first opened as a Florence correspondence school under a different name in 1975. Miller renamed the school and relocated it to the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1995. The school moved most of its operations to a second campus at the shuttered Marion Memorial Hospital in 2012. That move was helped by a $644,000 Marion County Healthcare Foundation grant.