The California man who spent years threatening and harassing wealthy Whitefish philanthropist Michael Goguen and dozens of his friends, associates and family members was sentenced to five years of federal probation in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Tuesday.
Bryan Gregg Waterfield Nash, 57, appeared via videoconference in front of Judge Kathleen DeSoto and received a sentence that matched the recommendation made in a plea agreement he reached with federal prosecutors earlier this year. Nash pleaded guilty to misdemeanor blackmail in May after being originally charged with a number of additional counts, including felony interstate stalking and interstate communication with the intent to extort.
Goguen, who is identified only as “Businessman 1” in court documents, was the victim of a “steadily escalating” scheme in which Nash attempted to coerce millions of dollars out of the prominent Whitefish businessman between December 2013 and June 2019. In charging documents, FBI agents describe a “friendly relationship” between Nash and Goguen while the latter was a partner at Sequoia Capital, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Their relationship deteriorated after Nash blamed Goguen for his divorce and demanded $250,000 in legal fees related to divorce proceedings.
The blackmail scheme only grew from there, investigators alleged, with Nash threatening to expose Goguen’s extramarital affairs “and other salacious activity.” When Goguen stopped responding to Nash, he began contacting Goguen’s family, friends, employees, attorneys and others in an attempt to extract payment, even contacting Goguen’s church in Whitefish and his former business partners at Sequoia Capital. Nash also contacted local and state law enforcement officials with allegations of criminal activity.
Nash is also connected to Goguen in two other ongoing legal cases.
One is a civil complaint filed in Flathead County District Court by Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial, who has accused Goguen of improperly interfering with a police investigation. In response, Goguen provided evidence of email communications between Dial and Nash. In those emails, the police chief tells Nash that Goguen is under local and federal investigation, emails that Nash allegedly later used as part of his extortion plan.
In a separate criminal case, Matthew Marshall, the CEO of Whitefish-based security firm Amyntor Group, is accused of running a years-long scam to coerce $2.3 million from Goguen to finance nonexistent “off the books” CIA operations. Marshall, who once worked for Goguen, also served as a “volunteer” at the Whitefish Police Department and allegedly helped Dial funnel negative information about Goguen to Nash. Marshall faces a 10-count federal indictment for defrauding Goguen. He has pleaded not guilty.
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