Rhode Island Democratic lawmaker ordered to pay restitution after 'keying' vehicle with anti-Biden sticker

July 22, 2023
Ben Marquis

A Democratic state legislator in Rhode Island was busted last month for vandalism when he was caught "keying" and scratching another vehicle that featured a "Biden sucks" bumper sticker in the parking lot of a shopping center.

Now that lawmaker, Rhode Island State Sen. Joshua Miller (D), has been ordered to pay restitution after he pleaded no contest in court to charges of vandalism and obstruction of a police officer, Fox News reported.

The vandalism charge was self-evident from the keying of the other vehicle while the obstruction charge stemmed from Miller's initial lies and constantly shifting story to police officers when first confronted about his criminal behavior that was caught by surveillance cameras.

Ordered to pay restitution

According to The Boston Globe, Miller was ordered to pay $2,850 in restitution to the owner of the vehicle he damaged and to make a donation of $250 to a Rhode Island Community Food Bank after he pleaded no contest to the charges against him.

Since the Democratic lawmaker had no prior criminal history and this was a relatively minor crime, the case will also be expunged from his record if he stays out of trouble for the next year.

"I am truly sorry for my actions in this matter, and I am disappointed in my behavior and lack of judgment," Miller told reporters following a court appearance on Tuesday. "In a blink of an eye, I exhibited a lack of self-control that has impacted my reputation. For that, I only have myself to blame as I am solely responsible for what led to today’s court proceedings."

The state senator, who has served in office since 2006, also stated that he had no plans to resign, despite calls from state Republicans for him to step down, and he was defended and supported in that decision to continue serving by his fellow Democratic colleagues.

Initially lied to police when confronted about crime

Local media outlet WPRI reported in June that Miller was caught in the act of vandalizing the other vehicle that featured an anti-Biden sticker and, ironically, was identified as the suspect by the victim in part by a bumper sticker of his own that read "Re-elect Joshua Miller."

Miller initially denied any wrongdoing when asked by the police then lied again hours later when he claimed that the victim had threatened him and was one of the "gun nuts" who allegedly stalk and harass him for pushing gun control legislation. Later, however, when confronted with video evidence of him committing the crime during a police visit to his own, he finally admitted to what he had done but again insisted that the victim had threatened him and "dared" him to do it.

The state senator then turned himself in on the misdemeanor vandalism charge and was subsequently released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond. He was hit a couple of weeks later with the obstruction charge in connection to his initial dishonesty and varying accounts to the police when asked about what had occurred, according to Patch.

Police insist no "preferential treatment" for lawmaker

Given that Miller had been allowed to turn himself in instead of being arrested and placed in handcuffs, The Providence Journal reported that there had been some complaints that the Democratic politician had received "preferential treatment," but the chief of the Cranston Police Department, Col. Michael Winquist, pushed back against those claims and defended how his officers had handled the incident.

He explained in a statement that state law only allows for arrests on misdemeanor charges if there is a warrant or "reasonable ground to believe that person cannot be arrested later or may cause injury to himself or herself or others or loss or damage to property unless immediately arrested," and since none of that applied in this situation, said, "I commend the officers who handled the investigation involving Mr. Miller and stand by my original statement that Mr. Miller received no preferential treatment."

Local NBC affiliate WJAR reported Tuesday that State Sen. Miller apologized to his constituents, colleagues, and supporters during the arraignment hearing in which also accepted full responsibility for his actions and pleaded no contest to the criminal charges against him.

Cranston City Solicitor Chris Millea also responded to the criticism that Miller had received preferential treatment during the arrest and in the form of a light sentence, and said, "Mr. Miller was treated no different than anybody else by the city of Cranston," and added, "There’s zero politics involved in this," according to Fox News.

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