Guilty plea in armed robbery at Fresno ATM

April 23, 2010 

A former Clovis West High School soccer player pleaded guilty Friday to robbing a person at gunpoint at an ATM in northeast Fresno last summer.

Benjamin Milam agreed to a plea deal that will result in a sentence of six years in prison. He faced as much as 64 years behind bars if he had decided to go to trial and was convicted on all charges.

The sentencing will be May 21 in Fresno County Superior Court.

Prosecutors say Milam, 21, used a semiautomatic handgun to hold up people at ATMs at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue and at Cedar and Nees avenues in July. He was identified after a bank surveillance camera captured him lowering a handkerchief covering his face.

Milam’s attorney, Charles Magill, said his client had no criminal history but was addicted to OxyContin and other drugs. He said Milam first got addicted when he was 16 years old and was given painkillers after suffering an injury while playing soccer at Clovis West.

“It’s tragic because he had such a bright future,” Magill said.

Milam, the son of KFSN (Channel 30.1) news anchor Liz Harrison, is trying to free himself of his addiction and is writing a book about his experience with drugs, his attorney said.

Milam initially was charged with three counts of armed robbery, one count of attempted robbery and grand theft. He also was charged with unlawful possession of methadone, Oxycodone and a hypodermic needle, and with resisting arrest.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop all but two charges: armed robbery and grand theft.

Milam was arrested July 14 outside Motel 6 on Shaw Avenue near Highway 99. Police said Milam had with him six pills of methadone, 11 Oxycodone pills and four pills that were not identified. He also had a hypodermic needle and a stolen driver’s license.

While at Clovis West, Milam earned several college scholarships, Magill said. But in 2007, he and Clovis West soccer player Alex Lloyd were prohibited from finishing their season after Lloyd took a college entrance exam using Milam’s identity.

The reporter can be reached at ccollins@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6412.

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