Ex-deputy cited for fraud, abuse

Before being fired earlier this month, former Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Craig Montgomery said he had been targeted by administrators for past union activities.

A termination report released this week asserts otherwise.

The 23-page report, released March 27, accuses Montgomery of physical and mental abuse, perjury, insurance fraud and intimidation, both before and during his time with the department.

“I didn’t do any of these things,” said Montgomery, a Port Orchard resident and former president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild. “This has been a witch hunt. ... The witnesses in the case have contradicted one another.”

Seattle attorney Jim Cline will represent the guild during an arbitration hearing on Montgomery’s dismissal. The firing will be reviewed by an impartial examiner.

“By the end of this summer, I expect it could go to arbitration,” Montgomery said. “I’ll be reinstated.”

The guild submitted a motion of reconsideration on Montgomery’s behalf shortly after the termination notice was issued. Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville said he is considering the request and expects to reach a decision by early next week.

If the Sheriff’s Department denies the reconsideration request, the guild will start searching for an arbitrator.

Montgomery said he has been interviewing attorneys and exploring options for possible civil action.

Montgomery has objected to the length of the investigation, which took more than a year to complete. He was placed on paid administrative leave during the review.

Bonneville said the investigation was conducted in as timely a manner as possible.

“There’s no justification for a year-long investigation,” Montgomery said.

According to the termination letter, an incident in February 2001 at Cedar Heights Junior High School in Port Orchard spurred a criminal investigation, which was conducted by the Washington State Patrol.

The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file criminal charges and the Sheriff’s Department initiated an internal investigation in May 2001.

Among the allegations in Montgomery’s termination letter:

• Montgomery inflicted a “history of physical and mental abuse” upon an unnamed victim. The report claims there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim, but Montgomery said he was cleared of the charges by three separate agencies, including the state Department of Social and Health Services.

• Montgomery perjured himself in Kitsap County District Court in December 1994. The former sergeant is accused of not being truthful in a court document about a relationship he had with a woman. The document was filed after someone requested a no-contact order against Montgomery. Montgomery denied lying about the relationship.

• Montgomery stole a vehicle he co-owned, drove it to a secluded area and burned it for insurance money in 1989. At least three witnesses testified to Montgomery’s participation in the act, which occurred five years before he was hired as a deputy.

Montgomery said the witnesses harbor grudges against him and have contradicted one another. He added that pre-hiring background checks would clear him, but the report that information couldn’t be located.

• Montgomery tried to use his position as a deputy to influence a prosecutor. The report states Montgomery was “vocal and argumentative.”

Montgomery denied abusing his position and said was only exercising free speech rights during work breaks or when meeting with prosecutors.

• Montgomery exhibited a pattern of explosive behavior at several agencies, including schools and the state Attorney General’s office.

The names of up to 17 witnesses were withheld from the termination report for privacy reasons. Two other allegations were not sustained in the report.

Montgomery said he has evidence to support his innocence in every case.

A court action Montgomery filed last month in Kitsap County Superior Court, which alleges the Sheriff’s Department prevented him from competing fairly for a promotion while he was on administrative leave, is still pending.

The guild also is taking the termination case of former deputy Brian LaFrance to arbitration.

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