The CEO of a Whitefish-based security firm under federal indictment for allegedly bilking millions of dollars from a local venture capitalist had ties to the Whitefish Police Department, where he served as a “volunteer” and gained authorized access to the facility while befriending the police chief, according to investigative documents obtained by the Beacon.
Two separate investigations by the state Justice Department into possible unlawful activity by Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial did not result in prosecution, according to the agency’s findings, while a third investigation by the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST), which oversees law enforcement training and certification in the state, has discovered potential violations of administrative rules and “instances wherein Chief Dial has engaged in inappropriate communications with individuals.”
One of those individuals is Matthew A. Marshall, CEO of security firm Amyntor Group, who on July 30 pleaded not guilty to all 10 counts of a federal indictment in U.S. District Court, where the most serious charge of wire fraud carries a possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
The indictment outlines an alleged scheme that began in April 2013 in which Marshall fraudulently convinced an unnamed victim, referred to in documents as “John Doe,” that he was an ex-CIA agent and member of an elite Force Reconnaissance unit in the U.S. Marine Corps who had “engaged in covert missions around the world.” None of those assertions are true, according to the filing.
Court documents go on to allege that Marshall convinced his victim to make at least six payments, totaling more than $2.3 million, between 2013 and 2016 to fund “off the books” CIA missions. Under the terms, Marshall was to lead “assault teams” to conduct rescue and other operations. Those missions never happened, the indictment states, and Marshall instead spent the money for his own personal use, and on loans and gifts to friends and business associates — money that he did not report as income on tax returns from 2013 to 2015.
Although the federal indictment does not name the victim, and neither the victim nor his attorney have confirmed his identity, the Beacon has independently verified that the individual referred to in the indictment as “John Doe” is Michael Goguen, the high-profile venture capitalist whose philanthropy has spanned the Flathead Valley, and who is the defendant in an ongoing lawsuit filed late last year by Dial.
When reached by the Beacon, Dial said he could not provide comment at this time.
Court filings in the Dial lawsuit, as well as separate investigative documents from the state Justice Department and POST, which were either provided to the Beacon or obtained through public records requests, serve as a nexus linking Dial, Goguen, Marshall, and former Whitefish police detective Shane Erickson, who Dial assigned in 2018 to investigate Goguen on allegations that have since been debunked by the FBI. Those allegations were at the center of an extortion campaign orchestrated by another individual, Bryan Nash, who in May pleaded guilty to federal charges that he used the misinformation to blackmail Goguen, with help from Marshall.
Erickson’s employment with the Whitefish Police Department ended following a bizarre series of events involving Dial, Marshall and Goguen, resulting in complaints submitted both by and against the former detective to POST. Those investigations are ongoing.
According to an attorney for Erickson, he and the city entered into “a mutually agreed separation agreement” because Erickson refuted the allegations made by Dial against him to POST in November 2018, and in turn filed his own complaint against Dial with POST in July 2019.
In separate complaints to POST, Goguen and Erickson both accuse Dial of cultivating a friendship with Marshall, who at one time worked as a security manager for Goguen, and of engaging in email communications with Nash, including spreading false rumors about a criminal investigation into Goguen. Those email communications resulted in two investigations into whether Dial unlawfully disseminated confidential criminal justice information. The investigations by the state Justice Department’s Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) and the state Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) both determined that Dial’s actions did not warrant criminal prosecution.
According to a letter to Dial from CJIN Program Manager Jennifer Viets, the agency completed its investigation in March 2019 and did not find any criminal violations surrounding Marshall’s role with the department, even though Marshall did not undergo a criminal background check before he was granted access to the facility.
“We were pleased to hear Whitefish Police Volunteer Matt Marshall was always escorted while visiting the Whitefish Police Department’s secure facility,” according to Viet’s letter to Dial. “However, we strongly recommend a fingerprint-based criminal history background check be conducted on anyone granted a ‘guest’ key fob, even if it only grants escorted access during normal business hours. The FBI puts a great deal of responsibility on an agency to ensure a visitor is truly escorted at all times, even during visits to the restroom. Agencies often find it easier to qualify volunteers for ‘unescorted’ access, which requires the fingerprint-based background check and completion of security awareness every two years.”
According to Whitefish City Attorney Angela Jacobs, the city asked DCI to investigate the possible release of confidential criminal justice information by Dial after receiving a complaint from an attorney representing both Erickson and Goguen in the POST complaints.
Jacobs said the city is aware of Marshall’s former role as a volunteer with the police department, which she characterized as being “limited” and included some training. She said the city is unaware of and cannot comment on the events that led to Marshall’s indictment.
According to minutes from a September 2018 meeting between Dial and Whitefish city officials to discuss personnel matters related to Erickson’s employment at the police department, Dial stated the police department worked with Marshall on “cybersecurity issues” and that Marshall had formerly worked for Goguen.
Court documents filed in Flathead County District Court show that Goguen put Marshall’s security firm, Amyntor Group, which Marshall billed as an international security firm, into forced dissolution on Sept. 6, 2018.
Meanwhile, the POST investigation into allegations that Dial made against Erickson in November 2018 has resulted in the discovery of potential violations of POST’s Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) by Dial, and reveals instances in which Dial provided false or misleading information in his complaint against Erickson.
“During its review of the Erickson allegations, POST has discovered that some of the information provided in Chief Dial’s memorandum to the City, and which was the basis for the allegations against Erickson, was misleading or false,” according to a synopsis of the POST investigation by Katrina Bolger, a paralegal and investigator with the bureau.
Moreover, Erickson and Goguen both allege that Marshall played a central role in the origination of Dial’s claims against Erickson, and that his suspension came at Marshall’s behest, all of which they say further undermines the credibility of the case against Erickson.
Still, Dial filed a civil suit against Goguen on Dec. 16, 2019, accusing him of attempting to influence a criminal investigation by currying favor with Erickson during his inquiry. Goguen’s alleged efforts to influence the investigation, Dial asserts, included befriending Erickson and inviting him on an “all-expense paid elk hunt in Colorado with a private jet, lodging, meals and guides.”
The lawsuit says when Dial discovered that Erickson failed to “properly and fairly investigate the criminal matter and had allowed Goguen to improperly influence the same,” Erickson’s employment with the Whitefish Police Department ended.
In their complaints to POST, which preceded Dial’s lawsuit, Goguen and Erickson dispute those allegations and reveal that Dial, in email communications with Marshall and Nash — the former who has been indicted in federal court for allegedly defrauding Goguen and the latter who has been convicted of blackmailing Goguen — made damaging statements about Goguen.
In a Nov. 16, 2018 email correspondence between Dial and Nash, the police chief wrote that Flathead County authorities and the FBI were investigating Goguen. The email from Dial was in response to persistent requests from Nash regarding Goguen’s involvement in criminal activity, the basis for which federal authorities concluded lacks merit.
Dial then forwarded his emailed correspondence with Nash to Marshall, whose business relationship with Goguen is the subject of last month’s federal indictment.
In Dial’s note to Marshall, the police chief wrote: “Having a little fun with Mr. Nash.”
According to Goguen, following receipt of the email from Dial, Nash used the information to fuel his harassment and extortion campaign against Goguen. In the federal complaint against Nash, officials allege he sought to accomplish his extortion objectives by alleging Goguen committed rape against one woman and murdered another, allegations the federal investigators disproved.
“One of the women is in fact deceased but has no known connection to [Goguen],” according to the June 2019 criminal complaint against Nash. “In the abundance of caution, the FBI interviewed the other woman, who Nash claimed was drugged and raped while she was underage. The woman told the FBI no such crime was committed, but stated she has been repeatedly contacted by Nash regarding the alleged crime.”
However, federal investigators did turn up evidence that in the fall of 2018 Nash and Marshall began collaborating in their efforts to extort Goguen, according to the federal complaint against Nash. The complaint, which refers to Marshall as a “former security manager” for Goguen, states that the collusion between Marshall and Nash against Goguen occurred after Goguen cut funding to Marshall and evicted him from an “expensive home” that Goguen owns on Missy Lane in Whitefish, and in which Marshall was living as part of their business agreement.
At the same time, Dial was in email communication with both Marshall and Nash.
Goguen eventually learned that Dial had provided information to Nash purporting the existence of criminal investigations and brought that information to Whitefish city officials, who in turn asked DCI to investigate the matter.
According to Assistant Attorney General Kenneth E. Varns, who declined to prosecute the matter, Dial’s emails to Marshall and Nash did not constitute confidential criminal justice information.
“It did inform another party of an ongoing investigation, which was not detailed enough to constitute criminal justice information,” Varns wrote in his findings, referring to Dial’s emails to Nash and Marshall. Varns also refers to a voice message Dial left on Marshall’s iPhone, the nature of which is unclear, but which Varns concluded did not violate the statute.
“It merely regurgitated third hand information given to Chief Dial from an attorney representing one of the parties involved in this matter and speculated about what may have happened,” Varns wrote. “After careful consideration, I have decided not to file charges because I do not believe this case could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Meanwhile, the POST investigations into Dial and Erickson are ongoing, and the bureau has “not been able to verify whether Chief Dial has provided Marshall with [confidential criminal justice information] in violation of the law.”
Perry Johnson, executive director of POST, said the bureau placed its investigation into the complaint against Dial on hold while DCI and CJIN completed their separate investigations. However, the hold has since been lifted and POST has sent a summary of the allegations against Dial and its findings to the city of Whitefish.
As of Aug. 6, the city still had not received the information from POST, and only has a copy of the initial complaint, according to Jacobs. Once the city receives the information, it has 35 days to provide POST with its own findings, according to Johnson.
Meanwhile, in light of the federal charges against Marshall, both Erickson and Goguen have asked that their POST filings be supplemented with the new information.
According to POST, Erickson’s case will be discussed during a case status committee meeting on Aug. 11.