Victim tells story of what happened when indicted Swallow donor allegedly beat him for being a 'rat' | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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Victim tells story of what happened when indicted Swallow donor allegedly beat him for being a 'rat'

Criminal pasts of perp and victim will likely dominate witness-tampering case

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On Aug. 8, a man who organized an off-the-books campaign fundraiser in 2012 for former Utah Attorney General John Swallow was arrested on federal witness-tampering charges, along with three associates.

Swallow never disclosed the fundraiser on his campaign records, which was referenced in the Utah House of Representatives' final 2014 report of its investigation into Swallow.

The indictment against Montgomery cited his involvement in using threats and physical force against a former employee to keep him from providing testimony in an official proceeding. Months before the victim appeared in the indictment—identified only as A.T.H.—he spoke to City Weekly about the May 2014 incident, when, he says, he was viciously assaulted by Montgomery and his associates for being a "fucking rat" to the FBI about Montgomery's company.

The company, Emmediate Credit Solutions, was the focus of the 2013 City Weekly cover story "Bad Company." Former employees described Montgomery as a "ticking time bomb" ex-convict, and said his company sold people essentially worthless credit-repair services. They also recalled Montgomery saying he was supporting Swallow so that, as attorney general, Swallow would help keep federal regulators off of his business.

Montgomery's arrest for witness-tampering is just one chapter in the Swallow saga and another addition to Montgomery's long criminal record—which includes assault of a police officer and a federal conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. And the case itself may be tough for the government because of the former employee's own lengthy criminal past.

"I would be very careful about relying on [his] veracity," writes Montgomery's attorney Cara Tangaro in an e-mail regarding the former employee.

On May 14, the victim—who asked that his name not be used to avoid retribution—met with City Weekly to discuss the events that led up to his violent confrontation with Montgomery.

When the victim first joined Emmediate Credit Solutions in October 2012 as a salesman, he says, the job was very profitable, and he fit in well. And his performance was such that, in June 2013, after taking his family on a cruise to the Bahamas, he was supposed to return to the company as a sales-team leader. The position offered more responsibilities but better pay. The victim says he left the company over a disagreement about money, but returned at the beginning of 2014 again to be trained as a team lead.

But while the former employee was being groomed for the position, he says, he was beginning to clash more and more frequently with his boss, Chase Montgomery—Rob Montgomery's brother—over the behavior of sales staff he caught lying to customers over the phone.

He eventually would challenge his bosses, the Montgomery brothers, for turning a blind eye to this practice, leading to an argument where, he recalls, Chase told him: "I need you to be a team leader, but I also need you to back me on everything I say." The former employee says he told Montgomery "You need to stop lying to people."

In spring 2014, the former employee says, his wife obtained a new job with good benefits, so he decided to quit ECS. But the brothers, he says, offered him even more money to stay.

The former employee then called the FBI to try to find out how the company might be breaking the law. He didn't initially speak to an agent, he says, but one did call him back and left a voicemail.

When the former employee went to collect his final check, he says, Chase confronted him about why he was leaving. The former employee played the FBI agent's voicemail for Chase and then left, but returned, he says, when his final check wouldn't clear.

On that second visit, he says, Rob came "charging out of the office and he grabbed me by the neck and said, 'You fucking rat, I'm going to fucking kill you!'"

When he pushed Rob away, he says, Chase and J.D. Montgomery then held his arms while Rob pushed his neck down to waist level, and another man, Jeremy Ertmann (known in the office as "Bear" for his formidable size), threw a series of uppercuts into his face.

He broke free but, under threats of further violence, exited the building and called police. Before police arrived, he said, Rob told him, "You're a fucking rat, I'll see you dead for this."

When officers arrived, he says, they almost arrested Rob, but instead released him from custody and didn't investigate the issue further.

Montgomery's attorney Tangaro argued in court, however, it was her client who was attacked by his former employee, and the dispute was never about the FBI but over the check. Tangaro wouldn't comment about the former employee's documented injuries, but did point out that he has a lengthy criminal history.

Court records indicate that the former employee was involved in theft and drugs since the mid '90s, and in 1995 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault on a prisoner. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of attempted theft. In 2005, he was federally indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and in 2007, had his sentence extended for absconding from supervised release at a halfway house and for getting involved in drugs again. Because of these violations of his supervised release, he didn't leave the federal corrections system until 2012, when he was released and was hired at ECS. The victim also has an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court in January 2014 for a misdemeanor charge of interfering with an arresting officer.

But if his record affects his credibility, the same argument will likely be lobbed against Rob Montgomery, who also served four years in the federal system for being a felon in possession of a weapon. His conviction on that charge came after his abused wife used Montgomery's gun to kill herself. The judge in that case noted Montgomery's past misdemeanors, including assaulting a police officer, and wrote that Montgomery "has a demonstrated history of violence and firearms violations combined with drug use."

When City Weekly interviewed Montgomery in 2013, he said he had turned his life around and his campaign support for Swallow was because he wanted to "put the right person in office."

Since that interview, Swallow has resigned from office and is facing 11 felony corruption charges. Montgomery also had a run-in with state regulators when, in late 2013, he settled with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection over telemarketing fraud citations and agreed to pay $12,500 in fines.

Since Montgomery's arrest on the recent indictment, the former employee has not returned requests for comment from City Weekly. In May, however, frustrated by police not arresting Montgomery immediately after the altercation, he wondered if he could challenge Montgomery at all, considering, he says, that he often bragged at the office about being worth $20 million.

"The Montgomery family are so rich, I don't even know how to mount a battle again them," the former employee says. "They just have so many millions of dollars."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously included the name of a Montgomery brother who was not involved in the incident. Chase, J.D. and Robert were the only Montgomery brothers involved. This article was updated Aug. 25, and the following retraction was published Sept. 17:

RETRACTION

In the story “Smash Brothers,” published Aug. 20, City Weekly inaccurately identified Cameron Montgomery as being involved in an alleged violent incident that’s part of a federal indictment against his brother, Robert Montgomery. Though the two men are brothers, Cameron Montgomery was not involved in the incident; his name was incorrectly printed instead of his brother Chase. We apologize for the error.


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