By Debra Friedman, STAFF WRITER
Published 04:46 p.m., Tuesday, September 1, 2009
STAMFORD – A Michigan woman, deemed the “head slave” of a Greenwich investor’s online fantasy world, rejected a plea deal Tuesday in an extortion case and is planning to fight the charges.
Patricia Miller, 45, of Cassopolis, Mich., appeared in state Superior Court, where she told a judge she would not accept a plea agreement on felony charges that would have allowed her to avoid jail time.
Miller is charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, first-degree criminal attempt at larceny and second-degree larceny for allegedly using various Internet personas to blackmail DuPont heir and Riverside resident Stephen Dent.
Assistant State’s Attorney David Applegate told Judge Richard Comerford the sides have been unable to reach an agreement to resolve the case Tuesday.
Comerford asked Miller if she understood that by not accepting the plea deal she could be facing nearly 50 years in jail if convicted.
“I take it you are not intending to avail yourself of the state’s offer,” Comerford said.
Miller said she understood her decision, and the case was put on the trial list.
After her hearing, Miller said she was taking the case to trial because she wanted justice and felt her side of the story had yet to be told.
“Basically, I am trying to clear my name,” said Miller, who is married and has one daughter and two grandchildren. “I feel this is a selective prosecution. I think it’s very unfair.”
Dent, who viewed himself a “slave master,” had a network of women he chatted with on the “sugar daddy” dating site SeekingArrangement.com. Miller is the fourth person charged by Greenwich police with attempting or successfully extorting the millionaire as a result of these online relationships.
The Michigan woman is described in police reports as the “harem mother” who would call Dent’s “slaves” to make sure they were fulfilling their end of the arrangement, which entailed getting breast implants and sending the investor sexually explicit pictures and chats.
Miller said she felt her actions were not illegal and that she had nothing to do with an Ohio couple, Dawn and Christopher Jessop, who pleaded guilty in May to an extortion scheme that swindled Dent out of more than $100,000.
Miller’s attorney, Mark Sherman, said while police feel Miller committed a crime, he disagrees because Miller and Dent had a consensual relationship in which money was being transferred voluntarily.
“It’s never easy turning down a court offer that doesn’t involve jail time,” Sherman said. “However, Patricia does not want to be branded a felon for the rest of her life based on cyberchatting that may or may not have spun out of control.”
Sherman said he will spend the next few months reviewing evidence on the case taken from Miller’s computers and cell phones.
According to the warrant, Dent came to police on March 1, 2009, to report that two women were attempting to extort him. At that time Dent provided a sworn statement that said, “I had been having a cybersex relationship with two other women, known to me at the time as including Sara Laste and Meghan Allen.” Dent went on to describe how these women — in reality all Miller — would send him text messages demanding money and threatening to come to Greenwich and expose him to all his co-workers.
After police looked into the claims, they found that Miller was allegedly behind all the personas and schemes. Three weeks later, on March 18, the Jessops were busted in Greenwich when they came to try and confront Dent face-to-face and ask for more money.
Miller was arrested soon after the Jessops’ bust, on March 30, but she fought extradition from Michigan until June when she was formally charged in Stamford.
The Jessops’ extortion case garnered national headlines after Greenwich Time exposed Dent’s history of soliciting sex and previous extortion incidents outlined in police reports dating back three years.
In 2007, Dent was extorted by a Queens, N.Y., man, who threatened to release information about Dent’s encounter with a woman and the sex acts they engaged in, which the man’s attorney at the time called “vile” and “vulgar.” A woman also extorted Dent for $9,000, but that incident was never reported to police.
Through those investigations, Dent admitted to spending up to $200,000 on sex at a local hotel in 2007. Police also released a standard form letter Dent would send out to various women offering monthly stipends for time at the hotel.
Dent has not been charged with a crime. Police said they declined to charge Dent in 2007 with patronizing a prostitute because they were going after the more serious crime of extortion and said it would have been difficult to prosecute him based only on statements.
Dent’s attorney, Steven Frederick, of Stamford, did not return a call seeking comment on Tuesday’s developments.
Sherman said when the case goes to trial, Dent will likely be called to testify.