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APF figure’s check to Hardin B&B bounces, but owner ‘not holding any ill will’

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ED KEMMICK
Billings Gazette
Thursday, October 15, 2009

BILLINGS – In announcing the suspension of a state investigation into American Police Force on Tuesday, state Attorney General Steve Bullock said he was “unaware of any Montanans who have been harmed financially by this company.”

Meet Marcianna Smith.

She is the owner of the Kendrick House Inn at 206 N. Custer Ave. in Hardin, a bed-and-breakfast where Michael Hilton and several other people associated with American Police Force stayed in late September.

Smith said a check Hilton wrote to her for “about $1,000” has bounced. It came back with “account frozen” stamped on it, she said Tuesday. In addition to staying at the B&B, Hilton invited a lot of people to breakfast and put the bill on his tab.

Even so, Smith finds it hard to be angry with Hilton.

“He was very charming,” she said. “I just find it hard to read what I’ve read and believe it was the same person.”

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What she read were press reports showing that Hilton, who incorporated APF last spring, was sentenced to two years in California prison in 1993 after pleading guilty to 14 felonies, including grand theft, attempted grand theft and diversion of construction funds. The Serbian-born Hilton also used at least a dozen aliases.

Last week, after a succession of damaging revelations about his background and his unraveling organization were published, Hilton announced that he was abandoning efforts to lease and operate Hardin’s $27 million jail, which has sat empty since it was built two years ago.

Officials with the Two Rivers Authority, the city’s economic development arm and the entity that built the jail, had insisted for weeks that Hardin had nothing to lose because Hilton wasn’t asking for any money up front.

Smith, for her part, thought Hilton was a good man and a good client. She said he stayed at her B&B for a couple of days in August and paid in cash, so when he asked to write a check for his stay in September, when he rented the whole establishment for him and his associates for three or four days, she didn’t think she had any reason to worry.

Full story here.

This article was posted: Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:09 am





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