Courts

Whitefish Security CEO Set to Plead Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Goguen

Matthew Marshall has accepted a plea agreement with federal prosecutors who will recommend a sentence of $3 million in restitution and a reduced prison term

By Tristan Scott
A Whitefish Police Department car is parked at the City of Whitefish Emergency Services Center on August 19, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The head of a Whitefish-based security firm whose connections to the city’s former police chief were recently borne out in a complaint by the state Justice Department’s watchdog bureau has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges that he defrauded local venture capitalist Michael Goguen out of millions of dollars and failed to pay income taxes on the money, according to new court filings.

Matthew A. Marshall, the one-time CEO of Amyntor Group, is scheduled to appear for a change-of-plea hearing on Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court in Missoula, where he will admit to the federal crimes of wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion, according to the terms of a plea agreement filed Nov. 4.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy is presiding over the case, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Racicot serving as lead prosecutor. Marshall is represented by Justin K. Gelfand of Margulis Gelfand, LLC.

In exchange for Marshall’s guilty pleas, prosecutors will recommend that nine additional federal counts be dismissed. The plea agreement recommends that Marshall pay Goguen restitution in the amount of $2,355,000 for the alleged wire fraud scheme and $899,327 to the Internal Revenue Service for the tax evasion charge. It also recommends a reduction in Marshall’s offense level in exchange for his acceptance of responsibility, although the court is not bound by any of the recommendations laid out in the plea agreement.

Even if Molloy agrees to the terms of the plea agreement, Marshall still faces a maximum prison sentence of 35 years in prison and more than a half-million dollars in fines. Federal sentencing guidelines ultimately dictate the sentencing parameters, however, and Molloy is not bound by any of the recommendations.

The bizarre case against Marshall first surfaced in July 2020 when he was indicted on charges that he perpetrated a scheme to bilk Goguen, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist, out of millions of dollars. Prosecutors tacked on additional charges in a superseding indictment in July 2021, while a second superseding indictment in September amended the charges yet again. The case was set to go to trial in December.

The indictment outlines an alleged scheme that began in April 2013 in which Marshall fraudulently convinced Goguen, referred to in documents as “John Doe” but whose identity the Beacon independently confirmed, that he was an ex-CIA agent and member of an elite Force Reconnaissance unit in the U.S. Marine Corps. Marshall told Goguen he had “engaged in covert missions around the world” and asked him to fund an “off the books” paramilitary mission in Mexico, according to a Nov. 4 offer of proof submitted by prosecutors. None of those assertions are true, according to the filing.

Still, Goguen agreed and wired Marshall $400,000 on April 25, 2013. Marshall subsequently asked Goguen for money for four other purported missions between October 2013 and March 2016 “based on Marshall’s material misstatements that he would use the money for the missions,” according to the offer of proof.

“Marshall did not use the money … for any missions, to Mexico or anywhere else,” the document states. “Instead, he spent the money on personal expenses and loans and gifts to friends and family members, among other expenditures.”

In addition to Marshall’s alleged criminal misdeeds, his relationship with Goguen has had other ramifications in Whitefish, including a direct connection to former Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial, who retired abruptly in August after leading the department for two decades. Shortly after Dial’s retirement, the state Justice Department’s watchdog bureau responsible for overseeing law enforcement training and certification in Montana, the Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), leveled damning allegations of official misconduct against him.

Those allegations are supported by hundreds of text messages exchanged between Dial and Marshall that appear to show the men colluding in an effort to retaliate against Goguen, against whom Dial filed a civil lawsuit in December 2019. Goguen is also the defendant in a lawsuit that Marshall filed in September 2021.

The POST complaint against Dial accuses the former police chief of colluding with Marshall to entrap a fellow Whitefish police officer; falsifying information and lying to city, state and federal investigators; and allowing Marshall, an “unvetted civilian with no POST certification or law enforcement credentials,” physical access to the Whitefish Police Department, access to information on confidential and ongoing police investigations, and access to confidential criminal justice information that is protected by state law.

Although Dial was initially given a Sept. 29 deadline to respond to the allegations, he has twice asked for more time and the case is still pending.

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