Accused ‘Lake Boyz’ member’s family claims violation of constitutional rights

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:
Jari McMiller

FORT MYERS, Fla. An accused gang member and brother of a NFL player will not be released from jail on bond – even though it was paid last month.

Jari McMiller’s family believes his continued imprisonment is a violation of his constitutional rights.

McMiller, who was among 23 arrested in an operation targeting the “Lake Boyz” gang, had his $1 million bond paid by Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Kyle denied McMiller’s release, stating that Watkins should have been present at his bond hearing to certify the source of the funds.

McMiller is being detained on a Nebia hold, which allows court officials time to ensure bond money in drug and racketeering cases is not ‘dirty.’ Watkins signed an affidavit certifying that the source of the funds was his NFL contract.

Watkins returned to New York during McMiller’s Nebia hearing to work on injury rehabilitation, his family said.

“Sammy’s money feeds the whole family. If it looks like…that he is not truly focused he could lose his job,” said James McMiller, Watkins’ stepfather.

Watkins is in the final season of a four year, $19 million contract with the Bills.

Watkins flew to Fort Myers to post the bond at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and was in the area for several days before a hearing date was set for his younger brother, family members said.

Watkins even posed for photos and signed autographs for jail staff, said his mother, Nicole McMiller.

“You are innocent until proven guilty, and we were hoping he could get released until he is able to fight the charges he was arrested on,” she said.

Jari McMiller’s attorney, Donald Day, argued in court that there has never been a standard for the person posting a bond to appear at a Nebia hearing. He plans to file an appeal.

The $1 million bond has been held by the Lee County Clerk of Court since April, Nicole McMiller said.

WINK news was not able to reach Watkins or his representatives for comment.

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