Hilton Admits: I’m Broke And Had No Corporate Backing for Jail Bid
TPMMuckraker– Zachary Roth | November 2, 2009, 9:57AM
“I’m out of the game. I’m done,” Michael Hilton has told the Associated Press in a phone interview.
The California grifter had just testified in court that he’s broke, is struggling to pay rent on his apartment, and recently borrowed money from his girlfriend. And he appeared to come close, perhaps for the first time, to admitting that he had deceived local officials in Montana about his effort to take control of an empty jail.
Hilton was in court for a hearing in a 2000 civil judgment against him which is now estimated at $700,000.
Hiss recent bid to take control of an empty jail in Hardin, Montana ran aground after news surfaced of his history of criminal fraud, and several of the public claims about his security contracting company, American Private Police Force, were called into question.
But this seems to be the first time that Hilton himself has edged up to acknowledging that he misled Hardin officials from the start. In court, he admitted that the substantial corporate backing he had claimed for his jail bid in fact never existed. Instead, he said he had four investors, one of whom was his girlfriend.
And according to a lawyer for the building contractor in the 2000 case, as reported by the Billings Gazette, Hilton also testified that he had no experience, training or licensing for police or prison work, and that APPF had no parent company and no other staff. Hilton had previously represented to Hardin that his company was an established security contractor active in all 50 states and working with the U.S. government.
Hilton also said that back in July, he told Greg Smith, then the head of Hardin’s economic development arm, about his criminal past, and was told it wouldn’t be a problem. Smith, who led the effort to work with Hilton, was put on administrative leave in September, for reasons that have not been made public.