Milliard charged with orchestrating drug sales from jail

BROOKVILLE – New charges have been filed against Francis Anthony Milliard, 54, of Ridgway, in connection with his alleged orchestration of drug sales from Jefferson County Jail, where he is currently incarcerated after being charged with two Elk County arsons and attempted murder in the beating of a Ridgway man. Milliard was imprisoned on July 24 after being officially charged in arsons committed in Johnsonburg and Ridgway in 2008 and 2012, respectively, as well as attempted homicide and related charges in the June 23, 2011 beating of Todd "TJ" Asti, 44, of Ridgway. According to an affidavit of probable cause, the new charges against Milliard stem from a Jefferson County Jail recording of a phone conversation between Milliard and Donna Lee Covel, 43, of 239 Grove Ave., Ridgway, in which Milliard can be heard using code words asking about marijuana being stored at his home and instructing Covel to remove it by taking it into her possession. According to the affidavit, Milliard can also be heard advising Covel in how to sell the marijuana and to whom, suggesting she utilize his cell phone and the contacts stored in the phone. The affidavit states that during the conversation, both Milliard and Covel discuss the location of "tickets" in a drawer and "big tickets" in the refrigerator, as well as "selling the 'tickets' to get money." According to the affidavit, Milliard's son, Anthony Karl Milliard, 28, of Ridgway, who is charged along with his father in the Johnsonburg and Ridgway arsons and currently incarcerated in Elk County Jail, told police in an Aug. 8 interview that in the context of his father's conversation with Covel, "tickets" referred to a quarter-ounce of marijuana and and "big tickets" to one whole ounce of marijuana or more. According to the affidavit, Anthony Milliard told police that his father had long used those "code words" and added that he knew his father to store "tickets" in the drawer and "big tickets" in the refrigerator. Francis Milliard is scheduled to appear in the Main Courtroom at the Elk County Courthouse for his preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 1:45 p.m. in conjunction with the charges related to the Elk County arsons and alleged assault of Todd Asti. A preliminary hearing for Anthony Milliard on arson and related charges is also scheduled for 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Elk County Courthouse.