Whitefish Security CEO Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Michael Goguen

On Nov. 10, former CEO of Amyntor Group Matthew A. Marshall pled guilty to federal charges of defrauding Whitefish venture capitalist Michael Goguen out of millions of dollars. He also pled guilty to charges of failing to pay income taxes on the millions. Marshall’s change-of-plea hearing took place in U.S. District Court in Missoula, where he admitted to wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy presided over the case. The lead prosecutor was Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Racicot, while Justin K. Gelfand of Margulis Gelfand, LLC represented Marshall. In exchange for Marshall’s acceptance of responsibility, prosecutors recommended that his offense level be reduced, and eight additional federal counts be dismissed. Per the plea agreement, prosecutors also recommended that Marshall pay restitution to Goguen in the form of $2,355,000 for the wire fraud, as well as $899,237 to the IRS for tax evasion.

However, the court is not required to adhere to these recommendations, and federal sentencing guidelines will determine the parameters of Marshall’s sentence. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 3, and Marshall will remain free on his own recognizance on a court-imposed bond until then. He has surrendered his passport and is not considered a flight risk.

The Indictment of Matthew A. Marshall

The case came to light in 2020, when Marshall was indicted on charges that he committed a scheme to swindle Michael Goguen, a local philanthropist and businessman, out of millions of dollars. Prosecutors added more charges in July 2021 and again in September 2021.

Marshall initiated his scheme in April 2013. He told Goguen that he was part of a Force Reconnaissance unit in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a former CIA agent. According to prosecutors, however, Marshall received a “Less than Honorable” discharge from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1999 after 82 absences from inactive duty training. Marshall was also never associated with the CIA.

Marshall also told Goguen he had traveled the world engaging in covert missions. He asked Goguen to help fund a mission to rescue U.S. government officials in Mexico. None of these claims were true.

On April 25, 2013, Michael Goguen wired Marshall $400,000 for the supposed mission to Mexico. From October 2013 to March 2016, Marshall requested additional money from Goguen for four more missions, ultimately totaling more than $2.3 million. None of these purported missions took place.

As the document states, “Marshall did not use the money…for any missions, to Mexico or anywhere else.” Instead, Marshall spent the money on a range of personal expenses, gifts and loans to family members and friends, and additional expenditures. Marshall did not report the money on his tax returns from 2013 to 2015.

Marshall’s Connection to Former Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial

Adding another layer to Marshall’s crimes is his relationship with former Whitefish police chief Bill Dial. Dial abruptly retired from his position in August of 2021 after two decades as police chief. He announced his decision to colleagues in an email with no further explanation. Soon after his sudden retirement, the Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) formally accused Dial of official misconduct. POST is a Montana Justice Department council tasked with overseeing law enforcement training and certification in the state.

The POST’s accusations against Dial include falsifying information, lying to investigators, and allowing Marshall—an unvetted citizen—repeated access to confidential information protected by state law and to the Whitefish Police Department. POST stated that Dial gave Marshall a key card providing 24-hour access to WPD facilities and a radio allowing him to listen to police transmissions. He was also provided access to ongoing investigation reports and closed case reports. When members of Marshall’s family were allegedly assaulted, Dial shared the suspects’ identities and locations with Marshall. He also agreed to allow Marshall to confront the suspects in the WPD interview room, “recording off, of course.” Marshall planned to convince the suspects to permanently leave Whitefish.

These allegations are supported by hundreds of text messages between Dial and Marshall, who regularly ate, drank, golfed, and took trips to Vegas together. Text messages also show the pair using racial epithets to refer to friends and acquaintances, as well as fellow members of the police department, which prompted the city of Whitefish to condemn Dial’s behavior.

One of the most severe accusations leveled against Dial is his involvement with Marshall in entrapping former Whitefish Police Detective Shane Erickson, an attempt to “exploit leverage” over Michael Goguen. The entrapment scheme occurred after Marshall’s lies to Goguen surfaced.

This scheme took place in September 2018, when Erickson was investigating a since debunked allegation against Goguen related to an extortion case involving a man named Bryan Nash. Nash later pled guilty to federal charges of blackmailing Goguen.

At Marshall’s suggestion, Dial permitted Erickson to accept an invitation to a hunting trip from Goguen. Accepting the gift was considered a conflict of interest and an ethical violation, and Dial reported this violation to POST. Dial’s report led to Erickson’s departure from the WPD. Erickson stated that he and the city of Whitefish entered “a mutually agreed separation agreement” after he disputed Dial’s claims against him. Erickson later filed his own POST complaint against Dial in July 2019, which resulted in the discovery of the current POST allegations.

Following Dial’s retirement, Whitefish’s assistant police chief Bridger Kelch stepped in as interim police chief. Kelch is also under investigation for possible involvement in the alleged misconduct involving Dial and Marshall.

Dial was originally given a deadline of September 29, 2021, to respond to the POST’s allegations, after the POST voted to allow Dial to voluntarily surrender his POST certifications or to contest the allegations in writing. Dial has twice asked for more time, and the case remains pending.

Unlike Marshall, Dial will not face criminal prosecution for his actions involving Michael Goguen, nor for his other ethical missteps as Whitefish police chief. This decision comes after a review by the state Justice Department’s Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) and the state Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). The POST disagrees with the decision and alleges that Dial lied to CJIN and DCI investigators.

Marshall’s Change-of-Plea Hearing

At the hearing, Marshall confirmed that the missions he asked Michael Goguen to fund were bogus. He said, “Mr. Goguen wired the money under the belief that the money was being used to conduct special operations in Mexico. And it wasn’t true.”

By pleading guilty, Marshall surrendered his right to appeal the sentence and his right to a jury trial. Even if Molloy agrees to the terms of the plea agreement, Marshall faces a maximum prison sentence of 35 years, as well as more than half a million dollars in fines.

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