Seattleland: Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Yarrow Point Connection

When I knocked on the door of Dennis Montgomery’s Yarrow Point mansion around noon, several large dogs began howling inside. I could hear them barking and sliding on the hardwood floors of the $2 million home in the Eastside enclave, a neighbor to Hunts Point, Medina, and the rest of the Bill Gates Wonderland.

Montgomery had lost the home to bankruptcy, but his attorney bought it for $20,000 from the court and apparently allows Montgomery to live there. Montgomery is also suing his lender, a bank he claims failed to properly record his mortgage payments.

If that sounds like a long story, well, most of Montgomery’s are. Take the one that appeared in Playboy four years ago. It runs about 6,000 words and is headlined “The Man Who Conned the Pentagon.”

That happened a couple years after 9/11, when Montgomery, then chief technology officer and part owner of Nevada software company eTreppid, made millions selling spy programs to the U.S. He persuaded Homeland Security, the CIA, the Air Force, and the White House that his software could decode secret messages to terrorists embedded in Al Jazeera Media Network broadcasts.

As officials belatedly discovered, “The communications Montgomery said he was decrypting apparently didn’t exist,” wrote investigative reporter Aram Roston, even though the U.S. at one point in 2003 went to Code Orange, Homeland Security’s second-highest terror-alert stage, on the basis of Montgomery’s questionable data.

Montgomery obtained other federal contracts as well, claiming his software could automatically identify weapons in video streams. But Playboy reported, based on FBI reports, that Montgomery rigged such findings. One former employee told agents he helped fake 40 demonstrations.

Not that accusations of being a con man seem to have bothered Montgomery (his own attorney referred to him as a “con artist”). On his Twitter account—though dormant for over a year—he uses the Playboy story and headline as his graphic backdrop.

Montgomery bailed from eTreppid, got involved in a political fight (accusing Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons of taking a bribe, which proved untrue), and discovered a new benefactor, Edra Blixseth, wife of billionaire developer Tim Blixseth. The couple who founded the exclusive Montana resort, Yellowstone Club, ended up backing him along with investor and former presidential candidate Jack Kemp. Montgomery formed a new company he ultimately called BLXware. That provided him with the kind of money you need to drive a $70,000 Porsche Cayenne GTS and, in one day at a California casino, lose $422,000.

The Blixseths moved to Medina in 2007 and divorced in 2008, and Edra filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Onetime billionaire Tim has since filed too, and last month was trying to head off the sale of his $8 million Medina home. He’s immersed in Yellowstone Club lawsuits and was recently ordered to pay creditors $41 million.

Montgomery’s fortunes have spoiled as well. In 2009, he was arrested on charges of passing $1 million in bad checks on the Las Vegas strip. That same year he filed for bankruptcy, listing debts of $12 million.

Like I said, long stories. The latest one appeared last week in Phoenix New Times. At 2,200 words, this one was headlined “Joe Arpaio’s Investigating Federal Judge G. Murray Snow, DOJ, Sources Say, and Using a Seattle Scammer to Do It.”

According to writer Stephen Lemons, Montgomery has devised some sort of computer-assisted program to help Maricopa County’s insufferable Sheriff Joe find out who is conspiring against him, which, in Arpaio’s mind, is almost everyone.

In this instance it’s supposed to be the Justice Department, which sued the sheriff, as well as Judge Snow, who had ordered Arpaio to end his department’s illegal Latino-profiling practice. It’s one of many costly actions by Arpaio, who at age 81 is showing signs of senility with his endless investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate. Complicating the Sheriff’s legal problems, one of his deputies recently committed suicide, leaving behind piles of evidence from those profiling stops that appears to be illegally withheld.

According to Lemons, Arpaio has been sending deputies north to confer with Montgomery on how best to expose the supposed judicial conspiracy against Arpaio. When Lemons asked why his men were sent to Seattle, the sheriff would only say, “I dunno, maybe they like the weather up there, or the snow crab.”

What did Montgomery have to say? That’s why I was knocking on his door that April afternoon. I was helping New Times with their story, seeking comment from Montgomery. I also wanted to ask about those other stories, if I got the chance.

He suddenly appeared on the walkway behind me, a stocky, gray-haired man holding a cell phone. I introduced myself.

“I really don’t wanna talk to you,” Montgomery said.

“OK, about Phoenix . . . ” I began.

“No comment,” Montgomery shot back.

“Arizona . . . ” I said.

“No comment.”

“Have you done any work for Joe Arpaio?” I asked as he began to move off.

“I, I, I have no comment,” Montgomery said, then walked away. “I’ll call you later. I’ll think about it.”

I don’t know if he thought about it. But he didn’t call. It’s now an even longer story.

randerson@seattleweekly.com

Rick Anderson writes about sex, crime, money, and politics, which tend to be the same thing.

 
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