An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for the Hardin, MT security fraudster, Michael Hilton. Hilton appeared in a Los Angeles court Friday, saying he was broke. At least one investor who lost $175,000 to Hilton and his escapades, isn't buying it. Becky Shay is the AFP duped and dumped reporter.
Becky Shay was a reporter for the Billings Gazette when Hilton hired her to work as AFP's director of public relations. Shay had covered the jail facility for the Gazette since it's construction. She reportedly was to be paid $60,000 a year by American Police Force, a company car and help with the downpayment on a home. Shay will likely be best known for this comment about AFP:
Ms. Shay reportedly left her job with the Billings Gazette after 9 years, with little to no notice. Shay said she received a cash bonus when she signed-on with AFP. Michael Hilton said he never paid anyone anything in Hardin, is $2,000 overdrawn on his corporate bank account and his personal account is empty as well.I made a great career choice...Here I am feeling the best I've ever felt about myself...At a great point in my life...I know enough about where the money is coming from to be confident signing on with them.
In the few days after Hilton drove his SUV's into town, Shay was a busy woman. As rumors swirled that Hilton was taking over the town, Shay said received death threats, and the implications were that the threats came from Hardin residents. The Billings Gazette newsroom told me today by phone that Becky Shay is not back on the staff of the paper.
The woman who had been working as his spokeswoman said she, too, is now seeking money from Hilton.Michael Hilton, whose birth name is Miodrag Dokich, and his American Police Force (AFP) arrived in Hardin, MT with black Mercedes SUV's and a Serbian-like magnetic emblem on the side, emblazoned with "Hardin Police." The problem: Hardin, Montana doesn't have a police force.
"I'm looking at it thinking there's a lot of people going after him for money right now," said Becky Shay, who quit her job as a newspaper reporter to work for Hilton. "I'd love the money he owes me, but I'm okay. What I have is the freedom to start a new career."
Residents were uneasy. Rumors raced. Was Hilton and his gang taking over the tiny town of Hardin? Then the news broke that Hilton, a native of Yugoslavia/Montenegro, planned to run the new, but completely empty 464-bed jail facilty. The eyes of the nation were on Hilton and Hardin, and city fathers had not a clue that Hilton had a lengthy rap sheet and a lengthy prison incarceration behind him, 17 aliases and made his living as a con man:
Hardin economic development officials signed a contract with Hilton in early September calling for his company, American Police Force, to operate the city's never-used jail and fill it with inmates.Becky Shay, the duped and dumped reporter is looking for a new
But the deal was never ratified by a bank overseeing the jail, and it collapsed after media revelations about Hilton's criminal background.
Board members for Hardin's economic development agency, the Two Rivers Authority, have said they never investigated Hilton's background and didn't know of his criminal history until after they signed a deal with him.
But Hilton said Friday that he confessed his past as early as July to the authority's executive director, Greg Smith, and was told it would not be a problem.
Smith, who has since resigned, could not be reached immediately for comment.
Photo Credit: Billings Gazette, Larry Mayer
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