American Police Force
|Website||americanpolicegroup.com Now defunct|
American Police Force (APF), and under its revised name American Private Police Force, was a fraudulent entity claiming to be a private military company. It never possessed any legitimacy to operate in the United States. The company's previous logo was an exact copy of the Serbian state coat of arms which caused some controversy and resulted in the Serbian government threatening legal action against APF if it did not remove or change the logo.
APF was registered as a corporation in California by convicted con man Michael Hilton on 2 March 2009. However, the company did not have a business license to operate in California or Montana. Hilton was also discovered to have an extensive criminal history.
Services offered by APF included "interdicting terror activity, interdicting weapons of mass destruction, international airline security, cheating spouse investigations, polygraph testing, kidnapping response, and weapons sales, including 'Nuclear/Biological/Chemical (WMD).'"
Taking over a Montana jail facility
APF had been contracted to control and operate a prison facility which had been empty for over two years in the city of Hardin, Montana. The contract was reportedly a 10-year, multimillion-dollar deal with APF to run the jail.
According to a CBS News article, dated from 29 September 2009, the APF is "a little known company which claims to specialize in training military and security forces overseas", which has "seemingly taken control of a $27 million, never-used jail, and a rural Montana town's nonexistent police force." Following APF's Mercedes SUVs entering the community with "City of Hardin Police Department" stenciled on the side of their vehicles, a city official released a statement dismissing such accusations: "There are no commandos in the streets. There is no fence or gate being built around Hardin. People are free to come and go as they please. APF is not running our town or our police force." The city of Hardin had no official police department, and traditionally relied on the Big Horn County Sheriffs department police protection.
According to a reporter's blog dated from 1 October 2009 on the USA Today website, it is unclear why and by which authority the APF has taken control over the empty jail facility in Montana. However, CNN reported back in April 2009 that Hardin city officials may invite and willingly host a Guantanamo Bay detention camp-style prison in order to improve the economic situation of the city, even though Senator Max Baucus of Montana opposed the idea and said it would be a security risk.
Steve Bullock, the Attorney General of Montana, investigated APF for possible violations of the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act in connection with dubious statements on APF's website with regard to APF's operations and supposed contracts with the federal government.
As the story unveiled, Serbian authorities have stated that the coat of arms appearing in the APF logo is being used illegally, and had requested its removal. Also, a California attorney who worked with APF has cut his ties to the project.
Michael Cohen, a former supervisor for the Secret Service was named by Michael Hilton to be the future operations director for the jail facility. Cohen who served 14 months in prison for stealing $2,800 from the government admits submitting a resume to APF several weeks ago but decided not to follow through when Michael Hilton declined to give him information about the company.
On October 9'th, it was announced that American Police Force would not be taking over the jail after all. Spokeswoman Becky Shay, former beat reporter for the Billings Gazette, denied any wrongdoings on the part of the company, but said that, "Two Rivers deserves a considerably less-controversial partner."
Orange County court records list the following aliases for Michael Hilton, the head of APF:
- Michael Hilton
- Midrag Ilia Dokovitch
- Michael Anthony Hilton
- Michael Miodrag
- Michael Djokic
- Miodrag Dokich
- Anthony Michael Hilton
- Michael Dokich
- Midrag Ilia Dokovich
- Miodrag Djokic
- Michael Ilia Hilton
- David Michael Comella
- Michael Kokich
- Djokic Michael Miodrag
- Michael Dokovich
- Miodrag Mic Djokic
- Michael Djokich
The alias Michael Miodrag is listed as being involved in a 2007 multimillion dollar fraud case in Australia. Australian authorities said they want to question him but no charges have been filed.
Becky Shay (born Rebecca Lee Shay January 3, 1969) is APF's spokeswoman and only employee in Montana. Shay filed two reports about the company before abruptly leaving her job as a reporter for the Billings Gazette to begin working with APF as a spokeswoman in less than 24 hours.
- Questions swirling around jail deal from Billings Gazette
- AMERICAN PRIVATE POLICE FORCE ORG INC. from California Secretary of State website
- American Police Force official has extensive criminal record from Billings Gazette (October 1, 2009)
- Hardin Jail Entrepreneur Has Checkered Past from Associated Press (October 1, 2009)
- Investigative Research re American Private Police Force Organization from Prison Legal News (October 1, 2009)
- "CNN.com Video". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- Katz, Neil (September 29, 2009). "American Police Force Corporation Takes Over Small Town Police Force and Prisoner-Less Jail". CBS News.
- Editorial: Short takes, The Roanoke Times, 2009-10-03. Accessed 2009-10-03.
- USA Today "What is the American Police Force and what is it doing in Montana?" October 1, 2009.
- "CNN.com Video". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- Billings Gazette "Montana attorney general to investigate APF," October 1, 2009]
- "Cohen serves 14 months in prison". The Washington Post.[dead link]
- "Becky Shay denies any wrongdoings".[dead link]