A tearful Glenn E. Miller, the charismatic Harrisonburg minister charged last summer with writing more than $200,000 worth of counterfeit checks to purchase a Mercedes, a twin-engine plane and other expensive items, has been ordered by a federal court judge to undergo psychiatric testing.
U.S. District Court Judge James C. Turk ended a sentencing hearing midway through Miller's emotional testimony, saying that he needed more information to determine whether Miller stole because of greed or because he was under the delusion that he was helping to build his ministry.
"If your crimes were based on greed, then it's of greater magnitude," Turk said to Miller on Tuesday. "He's a complicated and intelligent individual and he has persuasive traits and he can manipulate people," Turk said in court. "I don't know whether he's a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
By law, Turk was required to sentence Miller, pastor of the Solid Rock Church of God, to the maximum penalty of 22 years for check forgery and loan fraud before he could order the 90-day psychiatric evaluation at a federal prison in Butner, N.C., Turk told Miller, however, that he could bring him back for a new hearing after the testing.
Miller took the stand Tuesday for the first time since his July indictment. Sobbing and wiping away tears, he testified that he could not explain his actions and said he may have acted in the belief that he was helping to build his ministry. He was unable to stop himself, he said, even though "when it happened I'd be so thoroughly disgusted with myself."
Miller's behavior shocked many of the loyal church members who had flocked to the church each Sunday to hear his fiery orations. Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, Miller had taken over the tiny congregation and gradually boosted its membership to more than 150. He also had his own half-hour television show every Sunday.
A tip from a church member ended what investigators described as a four-year spree of counterfeiting and fraud from Bethesda to Savannah, Ga. At the time, bewildered friends and church members speculated that Miller had gone astray in pursuit of what they described as dreams of a career as a prime-time television evangelist.
Miller turned himself in to police in August and pleaded guilty to the federal charges. He also faces 14 other state charges later this month related to the purchase of stolen goods with counterfeit checks.
This wasn't Miller's first brush with the law. A self-described "born-again" Christian, Miller often renounced from the pulpit a past that he said included cattle theft and grand larceny involving insurance fraud.