Homeless Shelter Coordinator in New Jersey Accused of Running Drug Ring

By Paul Gaita 09/21/15

A major drug ring was discovered operating out of a shelter partially founded by Jon Bon Jovi.

Inside Joseph's House
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Federal agents have accused a longtime advocate for the homeless and coordinator for a shelter in New Jersey of overseeing a major heroin and crack-cocaine ring.

Mantua resident Harold “Hal” Miller, 38, who has served as the overnight program coordinator at the non-profit Joseph’s House, which is funded in part by musician Jon Bon Jovi, is one of six men currently being held in a federal detention center in Philadelphia on charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack cocaine. Another six individuals are being held on similar charges as part of a second drug ring associated with Miller and his fellow defendants.

Miller, who has been cited in numerous newspaper articles for his tireless advocacy of the area’s homeless population, came to the attention of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in January 2013. In a 118-page complaint filed by agents in federal court on September 1, Miller “typically [spent] no more than a few hours of each weekday at a workplace, then devotes the balance of the day to overseeing his drug-trafficking activities.”

The operation, which was conducted on the 500 block of Pfeiffer Street in East Camden, sold $10 bags of crack and maintained customer loyalty through “bonus” bags. At one point, surveillance conducted as part of the investigation allegedly observed Miller attempting to buy $5,000 of cocaine with a mix of counterfeit and legitimate bills outside of the shelter.

Miller, also known by a nickname “Killer Clown,” has an extensive criminal record, including a 1996 conviction for drug possession that earned him four years in prison. In 2001, he was convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon and received a 37-month sentence. Upon his release, he was then charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, which sent him back to prison for 15 months.

John Klein, an executive director at Joseph’s House, said he was aware of the 1996 conviction through a background check, but did not know about the two subsequent charges. He stated that Miller’s work with other community service providers, including eight years at Volunteers of America, convinced him to hire Miller.

“The way we looked at it was, ‘Here’s a young guy who lives in the city, has a past,’ but for the past 15 or more years has been a model guy.”

Miller is no longer employed by Joseph’s House, though Klein did not clarify if he was terminated as a result of the conviction.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.