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Posts Tagged ‘Hardin Montana jail video’

Montana AG Probing American Police Force Deal

TPM MUCKRAKER- Zachary Roth | October 2, 2009, 9:50AM

Could the party be over for American Police Force?

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock is investigating the mysterious security contractor’s deal to run an empty jail in the tiny town of Hardin, reports the Billings Gazette. And he doesn’t appear to be messing around.

In a nine-page letter sent late yesterday afternoon to Becky Shay — the former Gazette reporter who recently signed on as APF’s public relations director — Bullock said he’s probing whether APF may be violating Montana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

Specifically, Bullock wants proof for many of the statements on APF’s website which have been called into question by media reports in recent days — such as the claims that the company frequently has contracts with the U.S. government, and has operations in all 50 states.

Bullock also has asked for a copy of the contract between APF and Hardin, which the town has so far declined to make public, and has asked that APF disclose any lawsuits filed against it or Michael Hilton — the APF official who led the negotiations with Hardin, and whose lengthy criminal record and alleged history of alcoholism has intensified concerns about the deal. Bullock also wants any correspondence between APF and any government agency that has accused the company of being deceptive.

Bullock sent a separate letter to Al Peterson and a second official with the Two Rivers Authority (TRA), Hardin’s economic development agency which signed the deal with APF. Peterson didn’t respond to the Gazette‘s request for comment, but asked yesterday by TPMmuckraker about the deal, he replied: “What have we got to lose?”

More on this to come…

Late Update: We’ve now obtained the letters from Bullock to APG [APF] to TRA. You can read them here.

The letter to TRA asks for all documents relating to the APF deal, and also, for information on “[a]ll direct or indirect interests Authority board members or their immediate families in American Police Force (including without limitation its officers, affiliates, or agents).”

In a conciliatory note, Bullock adds: “In writing, I also wish to express my understanding of your concern for your community and the pressure you are under to fill the unoccupied facility.”

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“Captain” Michael? APF Official Admits Title Is Bogus

TPM MUCKRAKER- Zachary Roth | October 1, 2009, 3:33PM

Earlier we told you about Michael Hilton, the American Police Force official with a lengthy criminal record and a history of alcoholism, who inked a deal to have his mysterious security company take over a Montana jail.

And here’s a hilarious little indication of just what kind of a Gatsby-esque character — to put it very charitably — Michael Hilton appears to be.

Reports the AP:

Hilton, 55, uses the title “captain” when introducing himself and on his business cards. But he acknowledged it was not a military rank.

Not a military rank, you understand. Maybe he was captain of his high-school soccer team?

Update: Read TPMmuckraker’s full coverage of AFP [APF]:

Mysterious Private Security Firm Gets Control Of Empty Jail In Small Montana Town

American Police Force Leader’s Long Criminal Record

American Police Force Offers Fugitive Tracking, ‘Covert Pregnancy Testing’ and More!

Reporter-Turned-APF-Flack: “I Made A Great Career Choice”

Montana Town Reassures Public On APF: “There Are No Commandos In The Streets”

“Captain” Michael? APF Official Admits Title Is Bogus

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American Police Force Leader’s Long Criminal Record

TPM MUCKRAKER- Zachary Roth | October 1, 2009, 11:17AM

The American Police Force, that mysterious security company that just took over an empty jail in Hardin, Montana, is looking shadier than ever.

Since yesterday, details have been emerging about the background of the man behind APF — a California-based grifter, who has said he’s a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Montenegro, and uses the name Michael Hilton.

Over the years, Hilton has served jail time for fraud, and had a string of arrests and other run-ins with the law. Based on reports from the AP, the Billings Gazette, and Prison Legal News, here’s a quick rundown:

1988: Hilton arrested in Santa Ana, Calif. for writing bad checks.

April 1990: Hilton is again arrested in Santa Ana for writing bad checks and for grand theft.

1992: A civil judgment of $83,000 is entered against Hilton and Ilia Dokovich.

March 1993: Hilton pleads guilty in Orange County court to 14 felonies, including 10 counts of grand theft. One charge involves a $20,000 real estate scam, in which Hilton persuaded an associate to give him a deed on property in Long Beach, Calif., saying it was to be used as collateral on a loan, then sold the property to someone else. According to the AP, he spends six years in prison in California.

1999: A small claims judgment is entered against Hilton for $3,979.

2000: the same plaintiff obtans another small claims judgment against Hilton in Los Angeles County, this one for $1,852.

March 2000: Hilton is accused of fraud, larceny, and breach of contract, in connection to a venture in which Hilton and others recruited the plaintiff to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to create collectible Super Bowl commemorative coins. According to the complaint, Hilton and the others said the money would be used for the design and manufacture of the coins and for a license to produce them from the National Football League — but the NFL never issued a license. Hilton is ultimately ordered to pay the plaintiff $200,000.

Around the same period: Hilton also faces two similar fraud suits: In one, he’s accused of posing as a fine arts dealer to deceive a Utah couple into giving him a $100,000 silver statue. In the other, he is said to have teamed with a doctor to recruit investors for a southern California assisted-living facility that was never built.

November 2002: Hilton files for bankruptcy, in order to avoid eviction by his landlord.

March 2003: Hilton is arrested for DUI in Huntington Beach.

February 2004: Hilton files for bankruptcy once more, again to avoid eviction.

January 2006: A $5,052 judgment lien is entered against Hilton in Orange County, CA.

A Lexis search conducted by Prison Legal News turned up the following aliases used by Hilton: Miodrag Dokovich, Miodrag Djokich, Miodrag Djokovich, Michael Hamilton, Anthony M. Hilton, Michael A. Hilton, Michael Milton and Hristian Djokich, plus related variants.

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Mysterious Private Security Firm Gets Control Of Empty Jail In Small Montana Town

TPM Muckraker- Justin Elliott | September 30, 2009, 3:16PM

A shadowy private security company that has no known clients but claims to have helped foreign governments combat terrorism and will protect anything from cruise ships to Pakistani convoys has taken over a jail in a small Montana town, with plans to build a law enforcement training facility on the property.

The state legislature is looking into the matter and residents of Hardin, MT, were alarmed last week when executives from the firm, American Police Force, showed up in the town, which does not have its own police department, with Mercedes SUVs bearing “City Of Hardin Police Department” decals.

And the town has had to tamp down reports on conspiracy Web sites that APF plans to impose experimental H1N1 vaccines on residents under threat of quarantine in the jail.

Under a lease signed with Hardin, APF, based in Santa Ana, California, and incorporated just six months ago, is now in control of a 400-bed detention facility the town built a few years ago but never used, a town official confirmed to TPMmuckraker today. The town reportedly stands to make over $2 million per year.

Just what American Police Force plans to do with the detention facility, which comes with 50 acres of land in the small south-central Montana town, is unclear. Also not clear is who, if anyone, APF plans to put in the jail. (Watch a video tour of the jail here.)

Hardin, which is in default on the bonds it used to build the jail, recently undertook an unsuccessful campaign to make the jail a new home for Gitmo detainees. When that failed, the town turned to APF

The 10-year contract that is now awaiting final approval of lawyers gives APF the option of building a training facility, said Al Peterson, spokesman for the Hardin economic development authority. APF has said it plans to invest $30 million in the site, including $17M in the training facility, where law enforcement will get sniper training and learn “DNA analysis” skills.

And where is American Police Force getting the money for this venture? Company spokeswoman Becky Shay — until about a week ago the Billings Gazette reporter covering APF — says they are no plans to answer that question. She did not respond to a request for comment.

The matter has attracted the attention of the Montana state legislature, which is seeking more information about the arrangement between Hardin and APF. The committee that deals with legal matters will send a letter to Hardin officials to get more details on the deal, Representative Bob Ebinger (D) tells TPMmuckraker.

“Because of the apparent secretiveness of this, it gives the far right and far left to come up with all kinds of ideas. That’s why I’d like to see some clarification,” Ebinger says.

Peterson, the Hardin official, says the controversy sparked last week when APF executives appeared in black SUVs marked “City Of Hardin Police Department” was a misunderstanding of an act of goodwill by the company. The decals were taken off within the day, he says.

MORE HERE

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TOUR JAIL IN THIS VIDEO:

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