A West Seneca police officer was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from home improvement stores, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Ryan J. Miller, 33, a West Seneca resident who is a patrol officer with seven years on the job, was charged with felony counts of third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He was arraigned Tuesday evening before West Seneca Town Court Justice Jeffrey M. Harrington and released on his own recognizance.
If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Miller is accused of stealing merchandise from home improvement stores in West Seneca and other locations throughout Western New York between Oct. 1, 2021 and April 8, 2022, the DA’s office said. He is accused of stealing more than $10,000 in merchandise, officials said.
“Once the merchandise was in his possession, the defendant would allegedly steal the items by canceling an order or by leaving the store without paying for the items,” the statement said.
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In one instance, Miller allegedly bought two new water heaters and then returned the boxes with old water heaters in them and got a full refund, Flynn said.
Miller has been suspended without pay, a statement from West Seneca Police Chief Edward A. Baker said.
The investigation began in March, Baker said, when his office was alerted about “an ongoing incident involving the off-duty conduct of an officer with the West Seneca Police Department.”
Baker contacted the DA’s office, both Baker and DA John J. Flynn Jr. said. “As soon as they found out about it, they called me immediately and they recused themselves,” Flynn told The Buffalo News.
On Tuesday, the DA’s confidential crime investigators, working with West Seneca police, executed a search warrant at Miller’s home on Ehinger Drive where they allegedly recovered some stolen items.
Miller is scheduled to return to court at 9 a.m. May 27.
“The West Seneca Police Department prides itself on our honor and integrity,” Baker said in the statement, which was posted on the department’s Facebook page. “We strive each day to ensure our officers are held to the highest standard and fulfill our established core values. We do not tolerate these actions as it erodes the public trust in our mission.”