There are two developing narratives on this story: One, Michael Hilton is essentially just a scam artist. Two, APF is one branch of a multinational paramilitary with roots in Eastern Europe and California security firms itching for the contract to hold GITMO prisoners in a new Supermax prison. Of course, there is no necessary dichotomy between these two stories, and the truth may be some combination of the two. Place your bets. One thing is for certain – the cancer of militarization is metastasising across the culture.
Update (2009/10/2): Infowars.com has reporters on the ground in Hardin, Montana, and broke the story on their radio show that there is an outstanding warrant in Wyoming for the arrest of APF’s spokesman Michael Hilton. Their latest online coverage of APF may be found here.
Update (2009/10/6): The Billings Gazette is now reporting that Hilton has been ordered to appear before a Californian court on October 29 over ‘an unpaid judgment in a fraud lawsuit’, with a stack of financial documentation in tow. Perhaps the public will learn at that point how he’s been paying for his trips to Hardin.
Flashback: Private Paramilitary ‘American Police Force’ Corporation Takes Over Small Town Police Force and Prisoner-Less Jail | Guantanamo January closing deadline may slip | Tory plans for U.S.-style prisons slammed in report | Maximum Alert: U.S. Troops Now Occupying America | More troops on the streets: U.S. terror alert expands to transit and stadiums | US Police to get access to classified military intelligence | Alabama County May Call In Troops To Perform Law Enforcement Duties | US Military To Work With FEMA During Swine Flu Pandemic | Government of Canada Participates in Major US Homeland Security Exercise | Pentagon-handpicked 9/11 families want Gitmo kept open | US FEMA emergency management, Israeli IDF team up for martial law exercises | Guantanamo’s closure window dressing – overseas CIA ‘black sites’ to stay | British Army to Police Medicine Hat During Urban Warfare Drills | Obama administration: Guantanamo detainees have ‘no constitutional rights’ | Military may patrol bar zone in Barrie | Military readies reservists for threats to ‘domestic front’ | US Urban Warfare Drills Linked To Coming Economic Rage | Military and police practice integration during Olympic security exercises | Troops in the Streets: Army Brigades Standing By to Assist in Disasters, Help Quell Dissent | Canada, U.S. agree to use each other’s troops in civil emergencies
Matthew Brown, Associated Press
October 1, 2009
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s attorney general launched an investigation Thursday into a California company that wants to take over an empty jail in the rural city of Hardin, following revelations that the company’s lead figure is a convicted felon with a history of fraud.
Michael Hilton, who formed Santa Ana, Calif.-based American Police Force in March, came to Hardin last month promising to fill the city’s never-used jail and build a large military and law enforcement training center.
Hilton has a decades-long track record of fraudulent activities and spent several years in a California prison on grand theft charges. A native of Montenegro, he uses at least 17 aliases.
Citing “significant concerns” about the city’s dealings with American Police Force, Attorney General Steve Bullock asked Hardin economic development officials to produce by Oct. 12 all documents related to their dealings with the company.
His office made a similar demand of American Police Force, including information that would back up Hilton’s claims of multiple defense contracts with the U.S government and other agencies.
The launch of the investigation came as some Hardin officials began backing away from American Police Force. The city’s Two Rivers Authority reached a 10-year deal on the jail with the company last month.
But that was never ratified by US Bank, the trustee on the construction bonds used to pay for the 464-bed facility.
Attorney Becky Convery, who helped negotiate the deal, said Hilton overstepped his bounds when he showed up in Hardin last week with three Mercedes SUVs marked with fictitious “Hardin Police Department” logos.
He pledged to donate the SUVs to the city and also offered to provide law enforcement for Hardin for $250,000 a year. That prospect has stirred suspicion among critics that rural Hardin, population 3,500, could be transformed into a privately run police state.
Convery said Two Rivers director Greg Smith had a tentative deal with Hilton’s company to provide law enforcement service, but she said it was never finalized and she was uncertain whether it would be legal.
“We are not at all pleased with American Police masquerading as if they were the police for the city of Hardin,” she said.
Yet other Hardin officials remained loyal to American Police Force despite knowing little of its origins beyond what they’ve been told by Hilton.
“I don’t know that his background has affected his position or his ability to do his work,” said Carla Colstad, a member of the Hardin City Council. “I don’t consider it relevant to what’s going on today.”
Hilton – who came to Hardin last week in a black, military-style uniform – portrayed his company as an international player in the security industry. No records have been found of the extensive U.S. government contracts he claims.
Instead, documents and interviews with Hilton’s associates revealed a history of fraud and criminal activity. That includes outstanding judgments against him in three civil cases totaling more than $1.1 million.
“Such schemes you cannot believe,” said Joseph Carella, an Orange County, Calif., doctor and co-defendant with Hilton in a real estate fraud case that resulted in a civil judgment against Hilton and several others.
Carella, described in court documents as a “pawn” in the scheme, said he was never a willing participant. But he acknowledged partnering with Hilton in other failed business deals after being won over by his charm.
“The guy’s brilliant. If he had been able to do honest work, he probably would have been a gazillionaire,” Carella said.
As for Hilton’s military expertise, including his claim to have advised forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, several associates interviewed knew of no such feats, although one said Hilton had talked of being in the special forces in Greece decades ago.
Most who knew him described Hilton alternately as an art dealer, cook, restaurant owner, land developer, loan broker and car salesman.
Hilton did not return numerous calls seeking comment this week. American Police Force attorney Maziar Mafi referred questions to company spokeswoman Becky Shay.
When asked about court records detailing Hilton’s past, Shay replied: “The documents speak for themselves. If anyone has found public documents, the documents are what they are.”
The three SUVs Hilton brought to Montana have yet to be turned over to the city, which does not have a police force of its own but is considering forming one.
At least one is being driven by Shay, a former reporter who abruptly quit her job at the Billings Gazette to work for American Police Force. She said Hilton offered her $60,000 a year.
The jail deal is worth more than $2.6 million a year, according to city leaders.
His criminal record goes back to at least 1988, when Hilton was arrested in Santa Ana, Calif., for writing bad checks. In 1993, Hilton was sentenced to six years in prison in California on a dozen counts of grand theft and attempted grand theft and other charges including illegal diversion of construction funds.
Source | See Also under Militarization: Conservatives claim ‘no decision’ made on leaving some troops in Afghanistan past 2011 | Portable heat ray weapon may end up in police hands | Conservatives claim ‘no decision’ made on leaving some troops in Afghanistan past 2011 | Another War in the Works | Private Paramilitary ‘American Police Force’ Corporation Takes Over Small Town Police Force and Prisoner-Less Jail | US military could strike Iran, but at what cost? | Honduras suspends civil liberties as ousted President calls for resistance | G20 Police & Military Savagely Attack Peaceful Protesters In Pittsburgh Park | Guantanamo January closing deadline may slip | Military Police Kidnap G20 Protester, Shove Him Into Unmarked Car | 250-Foot Long Hybrid Airship Will Spy Over Afghanistan Battlefields in 2011 | G20 protesters blasted by sonic cannon | American Citizens Attacked With Military Sound Cannons & Tear Gas At G20 | Tory plans for U.S.-style prisons slammed in report | RCMP tests Tasers that record video | Report: Massive FBI database set to quadruple in size | Maximum Alert: U.S. Troops Now Occupying America | More troops on the streets: U.S. terror alert expands to transit and stadiums | As Olympics loom, B.C. wants to force homeless into shelters in extreme weather | U.S. commander warns of failure in Afghanistan, calls for more troops | Merced police used TASER on unarmed, legless man in a wheelchair | Business as usual: SWAT team breaks down mayor’s door, shoots dogs, ransacks home, refuses to apologize | Massachusets Says Forced Injections, Quarantines For Any “Rapidly Spreading Germ” | Obama scales back missile defence shield in Europe | US Spec Ops operates psychological warfare websites targeted at UK | US Police to get access to classified military intelligence | CF-18s join B.C. Olympic security drill | Top US commander signals troop increase in Afghanistan | UN condemns ‘war crimes’ in Gaza | Police training to forcibly take blood in Texas, Idaho | UK: Now Big Brother targets helpful parents – 1 in 4 Britons vetted for giant new child protection database | Sonic weapons used in Iraq positioned at congressional townhall meetings in San Diego county | Ground broken on $3.4 billion Homeland Security complex | Military helicopters over downtown Montreal for exercise | China’s crackdown for patriotism on 60th anniversary | Border guards resorting to force more often | Obama’s effort in Afghanistan ‘just beginning’: U.S. defence secretary | Bill would give president emergency control of Internet | Outcry in South America over US military base pact | Olympics push army to edge | UK Government to consider internet disconnection policy, restrictions | Rendition still happening on Obama’s watch | Obama approves new interrogation unit | UK: Police may be issued with new high-power Taser | TASER files court motion to quash Braidwood probe’s findings | Ex-employees claim Blackwater pimped out young Iraqi girls | Canada should stay in Afghanistan: NATO head | Alabama County May Call In Troops To Perform Law Enforcement Duties | Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Implicated in Murder | ‘Coalition of the willing’ comes to end in Iraq | Prominent protesters stand trial in Iran | U.S. military seeks ’second surge’ for Afghan mission | Arctic borders will be defended: MacKay | Handgun bans and the world of make-believe | US Homeland Security: Terror fight needs public’s vigilance | US Military To Work With FEMA During Swine Flu Pandemic | Arctic expert questions Canada’s northern strategy | Government of Canada Participates in Major US Homeland Security Exercise | TASER introduces 3-shot semiauto | Northwest Passage surveillance study halted | Microwave weapon will rain pain from the sky | Israeli soldiers allege abuses against Palestinians | Dick Cheney ‘hid plans to kill al-Qaida operatives abroad’ | UK PM Gordon Brown plans troops surge in Afghanistan | Toronto TAVIS special police corps demanding ID on city streets | RCMP pipeline bomber hunt draws harassment compliants, comparisons to secret police | BC Bars swipe patron IDs, collect data | Safety Tests MIA for Taser’s Shocking New Shotgun | 2010 Olympic security plans include ‘free speech’ zones | Military to get $5B for armoured vehicles | Western Governments Funding Taliban & Al-Qaeda To Kill U.S. Troops, Destabilize Countries | Taliban flee new U.S. drive in Afghanistan | US FEMA emergency management, Israeli IDF team up for martial law exercises | Cynthia McKinney Demands Immediate Release After Her Gaza-Bound Boat is Seized by Israeli Navy | Iraq Marks Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Cities | Psiphon braintrust: Ottawa needs a strategy for cyberwar | US ‘concerned’ over cyber threat | 50 Toronto high schools to have armed police presence | Selective enforcement: Charkaoui barred from US airspace on flight from Fredericton to Montreal | Pakistan remains silent as U.S. air attack kills 80 | UK to found new ‘cyber-security’ units attached to national eavesdropping centre | Illegal Victoria Transit bag searches reinstated under new policy for Canada Day | North Korea threatens to ‘wipe out’ U.S. | Volunteer snitches man cameras in Lancaster, PA. | Violence on the streets of Tehran as police beat back protesters | Mounties discussed Tasing Dziekanski prior to altercation | Toronto police ready to take over transit patrols | Military spycraft patrols Ontario border from Fort Drum | Mounties discussed Tasing Dziekanski prior to altercation | Toronto police ready to take over transit patrols | ISPs must help police snoop on internet under new bill | UK plans to integrate ‘cybersecurity’ centre with US, Canada | Military spy blimp watched Indy race from on high | Incoming CSIS chief to seek biometric data at border | New $3B Defence Department plane contract requirements written to favour Italian vendor | New video shows officer shove, then taser 72-year-old great grandmother | Pakistan army backs citizens fighting Taliban | Mohawk protesters block Ontario bridge over arming of border guards | UK: Spy bugs may be deployed for 2012 Olympics | US: Ruling allowing Taser use to get DNA may be nation’s first | UK schoolkids trained to inform on ‘extremist’ classmates by police DVD | Akwesasne natives protest armed border guards, border crossing closed in retaliation | New border rules create ‘invisible Berlin Wall’: mayor | Homing chips are CIA’s latest weapon against ‘al-Qaida’ targets hiding in Pakistan’s tribal belt | Homeland Security to scan fingerprints of travellers exiting the US | Government Experiments on U.S. Soldiers: Shocking Claims Come to Light in New Court Case | New US border technology directed at insidious threat: Canadians | Toronto police board challenges chief on CCTV deterrence, demands ‘phase-in’ | Canada eyes arms sales to Pakistan | Next up for France: police keyloggers and Web censorship | Clinton defends new border restrictions | ‘AmeriCorps’ Domestic Paramilitary Propaganda Ad | New US brigade ‘bringing in plenty of firepower’ to Afghanistan | Caught in the crossfire — the Swat valley’s fleeing families | Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More | Canadian military to spam Afghan’s cell phones | Lunchtime lockdown to promote healthier eating: T.O. school plan | CIA: Our Drones are Killing Terrorists. Promise. | UK: New biometric security checks could include brain scans, heart rhythm fingerprinting | US air strikes kill dozens of Afghan civilians | Mutiny, Georgian war games feed tensions between Russia, NATO | 3 B.C. men allege abuse by RCMP in 2008 raid | SMS texts being data mined in France: Man strip searched, held after joke | Swine Flu: In Mexico, an outbreak of police-state opportunism | Military’s ‘Polar Breeze’ cloaked in secrecy | Alberta bars could collect names, photos under proposed bill | Killer robots and a revolution in warfare | Olympics-Cruise ships set for security in 2010 Games | RCMP ’sorry’ for errors in taser briefings | British Army to Police Medicine Hat During Urban Warfare Drills | Tamil civilians slaughtered as army shells ‘no-fire zone’ | Israeli troops kill apartheid wall protester | Urban warfare drills coming to Medicine Hat | Afghan front lines take mental toll on military and RCMP | ‘Say please’ at U. S. border nets pepper spray | Military may patrol bar zone in Barrie | Time to emulate Roosevelt’s New Deal and create green jobs | New World Order Crony Gary Hart Calls for “Civic Duty” | British Secret Service, Army Alert on Bank Riots | UK: Government ‘using fear as a weapon to erode civil liberties’ | Australian web censorship plan to begin trial despite house opposition | Justin Trudeau introduces National Voluntary Service motion | US Democrats Introduce Public National Service Bills | UK security whitepaper urges ‘end of privacy’ | All officers need Tasers, police associations say | Remote-controlled planes could spy on British homes | US Urban Warfare Drills Linked To Coming Economic Rage | Family furious after police raid East Vancouver home | Obama backs Bush: No rights for Bagram prisoners | Predator drones patrolling border irk Manitoba MLA | Schools seek more police as crime drops | National Guard to invade Iowa town in door-to-door gun confiscation drill | U.S. set to launch Predator drones to monitor Manitoba border | Blackwater, mired in Iraq controversy, changes its name to ‘Xe’ | The Spy Factory: The New Thought Police | Tasers potentially lethal, RCMP commissioner tells MPs | Olympic security good for Canada, IOC head says | Military and police practice integration during Olympic security exercises | Obama’s Change: Expanding the Power of the NSC and Shadow Government | Police presence in high schools makes the grade | Chinese Learn Limits of Online Freedom as the Filter Tightens | Ban stun gun use on young people, Ontario child advocate urges | 24 star Keifer Sutherland opposed to torture, questions role of series in inspiring interrogations | Military to be out in force for Vancouver Olympics | Official: Blackwater contract for Iraq not renewed | RCMP destroyed evidence, charges dismissed in second torture case for officers | Tories seek extra $331-million for Afghan mission | UK Terror Law To Make Photographing Police Illegal | New Legislation Authorizes FEMA Camps In U.S. | Obama eyes 3 more brigades for Afghanistan | Montreal may ban insults to police | U.S. study raises more questions about TASER safety | CSIS invites academic community into the fold | Whistleblower: NSA even collected credit card records | Israel admits troops used phosphorus shells in Gaza | Woman swats children on plane, charged with Terrorism | Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel | Video shows proof of phosphorous bombs in Gaza | A decade later, Lastman proud he called in army | Israel ignores ceasefire plea, pounds Gaza | Canadian military getting 1,300 new heavily armoured trucks for ‘domestic use’ | Washington to be locked down for inauguration | Vets Sue CIA Over Mind Control Tests | Military challenge: Make spy data more accessible | They hate us for our bombs | Defense Contractors See $$$ in Cyber Security | India signs new anti-terror laws in wake of Mumbai attack | Private firm may administer UK surveillance database | Toronto surveillance project to enter new phase pending review | US police could get ‘pain beam’ weapons | Bush Signs New Unified Command Plan for ‘Synchronized Global Planning’ | Army ‘Strategic Shock’ Report Says Troops May Be Needed To Quell U.S. Civil Unrest | Military Tech on the Home Front: Predator drones to begin surveillance of Canada-US border | Some tested Tasers fire stronger current than company says: CBC/Radio-Canada probe | Pentagon earmarks 20,000 additional troops for American streets | Pentagon hires British scientist to help build robot soldiers that ‘won’t commit war crimes’ | Hoverdrone to be deployed to Iraq | US Cops Tase 54 Year Old Woman For Sitting In Wrong Seat At Football Game | Don’t-ask-don’t-tell Policy: Pakistan and U.S. Have Tacit Deal On Airstrikes | Two More U.S. Military Units Assigned For Homeland Security | Police will use new device to take fingerprints in street, vendors say face scanning next | Germany rejects full-body scans at airports | US military targets social nets | Homeland Security Assuming Broad Powers, Turning Swaths of U.S. into “Constitution-Free Zone” | Pentagon Wants Packs Of Robots To Detect “Non-cooperative Humans” | Interpol wants facial recognition database to catch suspects | Army Orders Pain Ray Trucks; New Report Shows ‘Potential for Death’ | Tasers being used for pain compliance during interrogation, suit alleges | New surveillance program will turn military satellites on US | Representatives Were Threatened With Martial Law In America Over Bailout Bill | American Rail Passengers Subject to Random Searches, Police Presence | ‘Pre-crime’ detector shows promise | Frequent school lockdowns raise questions | Secret killing program is key in Iraq, Woodward says | Troops in the Streets: Army Brigades Standing By to Assist in Disasters, Help Quell Dissent | Armed police officers heading to high schools | Citizens Witness Gunplay, Black Uniforms as ‘Flashpoint’ Shoots Drama in Heart of Toronto | Suddenly, Denver ‘like a police state’ | NYC Residents Furious over Invasive Surveillance Grid | Rounded up into torture camps: the ‘undesirables’ China doesn’t want you to see | Kids to Help Create Drones, ‘Fuzzy’ Line to Be Drawn between Military and Civil Spheres | News crew crashes Denver’s DNC ‘concentration camp’ | Unmanned spy planes to police Britain | Troops patrolling Italian cities alongside police | Saskatchewan adopting US-mandated ID card, to include RFID chip, facial recognition | Eye scans, fingerprints to control NZ borders | Turning Toronto into a nanny state | Drivers licences with chips spark heated debate | UK Surveillance Commissioner calls for intelligence officers to work with municipalities | Illinois governor suggests National Guard help with Chicago gun crime | Toronto artist seeks explanation for police raid | RCMP conducts random search and seizure on Canada Day | TASER bracelets considered for airline passengers | Papers Please: UK cops stopping millions in streets | Air passengers to undergo ‘virtual strip search’ | US Counterinsurgency Manual Leaked, Calls for False Flag Operations, Suspension of Human Rights | Youth Worker Subjected to Warrantless Raid on Secret Evidence | Tanks, Face-Scanning Cameras Part of ‘Discreet’ 2010 Games Security | Tasers pose risk to heart, MDs testify | Peel and Stick’ Tasers Electrify Riot Control | Israel startup uses behavioral science to identify terrorists | Machine Gun-Toting Officers To Patrol NYC Subway | Massachusetts Police Get Black Uniforms to Instill Sense of ‘Fear’ | CBC Radio Broadcasts Expose of North American Police State | Canada, U.S. agree to use each other’s troops in civil emergencies | U.S. Northern Command, Canada Command establish new bilateral Civil Assistance Plan | Chicago study calls Taser’s safety claims into question | Tasers: the next generation | Austin police testing unmanned spy drones | Nunavut taken aback by military plan for drone patrols | U.S. to patrol Manitoba border with drone aircraft | RCMP, U.S. Army block public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership | Fascist America, in 10 easy steps | Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips. A grim vision of the future | Harper pledges to boost military presence in cities | Project Paperclip: The US Nazi Amnesty | Ontario Police Chiefs travel to Israel to study police tactics | Much of Britain sprayed in secret germ warfare tests