Three Whitefish men involved in lawsuits
Hagadone News Network | September 2, 2021 9:00 AM
Three Whitefish residents are embroiled in lawsuits involving each other that include claims of trying to derail a criminal investigation, an alleged sexual scheme and participating in racketeering activity.
The most recent lawsuit was filed in federal court in February 2021 by Matthew Anthony Marshall and three of his business associates against Michael Lewis Goguen and his business ventures. Marshall and his associates are seeking more than $300 million in damages.
Marshall claims in the lawsuit that Goguen induced him to leave his position at the U.S. State Department for a job with Two Bear Security, and based on a promise by Goguen to fund a private security contracting business (which Marshall named Amyntor), to be built on Marshall's personal network and expertise, until such business became profitable.
Marshall recruited others to help grow the business of Amyntor and together, they invested five years to grow Amyntor into a flourishing business, according to the suit.
Marshall claims Goguen compromised their activities by repeatedly seeking to commandeer and use the business' contacts, Amyntor resources, and Goguen's numerous entities and employees to further Goguen's alleged racketeering scheme to destroy anyone who sought to expose Goguen for his alleged prolific sexual misconduct.
Marshall also alleged in the complaint that Goguen consistently underfunded Amyntor from 2014-2018, then dissolved it in late 2018 after he and his business associates sought to buy out Goguen's total investments at four times what he invested, as a means to salvage the company they had been building.
In June, Goguen's attorneys sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, but U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy dismissed the motion.
Also, former Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial sued Goguen in December 2019, alleging Goguen attempted to derail a criminal investigation and also tried to get Dial fired from his job.
Dial, who retired from the police department, is being investigated by state officials on allegations of misconduct while he was the chief.
IN FEBRUARY 2020, Flathead County District Judge Robert Allison reviewed five counts that Goguen, through his attorney, Richard Hegger, believed warranted dismissal of the suit. But Allison found no merit in them.
"We vehemently disagree with numerous statements made to the media by Mr. Goguen and his attorney," Dial attorney Marcel A. Quinn said in an earlier email to the Daily Inter Lake. "It is our intention to try the case against Mr. Goguen in the courtroom. In the end, we believe the evidence will speak for itself."
Goguen, through the law firm Holland & Hart of Billings, filed a response Jan. 9 to Dial's lawsuit, asserting Dial's complaint is "nothing short of a malicious attempt to retaliate against Goguen for complaints made about Dial's performance as a public servant and to eliminate Goguen's rights under the First Amendment and Montana Law."
The response continues, stating "Dial is not a king immune from criticism. Instead, he is a public official serving in a position of public trust as Whitefish's Chief of Police. And as such, he is susceptible to criticism just as he is accountable to the citizens he serves."
Goguen's request for dismissal claimed Dial's "efforts to silence Goguen and punish him for seeking redress from the Whitefish city government and state of Montana have no basis in law. Even at this stage where his allegations are taken as true, Dial's claims are defeated by the First Amendment and Montana law regarding privileged communications."
DIAL'S LAWSUIT alleges Goguen attempted to thwart a 2017 criminal investigation that resulted in the "negotiated resignation" of a Whitefish Police Department lead detective. The complaint alleges that when Goguen learned the detective, identified as Shane Erickson in a complaint with the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, had resigned and he wasn't able to secure favoritism with the Whitefish Police Department, Goguen engaged in retaliatory conduct aimed at maliciously, intentionally and purposefully interfering with Dial's economic interests and employment with the department.
Goguen and Hegger previously spoke with the Daily Inter Lake about claims made in the lawsuit. Goguen maintains he's done nothing wrong and was instead the victim of an extortion effort and an orchestrated attempt to discredit him, which Goguen says involved Dial and a former business associate, Matthew Anthony Marshall.
Dial alleges Goguen befriended Detective Erickson, donated money to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that would have created a job specifically for Erickson, and took him on an all-expenses-paid elk hunt in Colorado on his private jet — all at the time a criminal investigation was supposed to be occurring.
Dial's lawsuit asserts Goguen's conduct caused Erickson to fail to open any report and properly investigate the matter, and that Erickson turned a blind eye to potential crimes and failed to document several communications he had with Goguen that were related to the investigation.
MARSHALL AND Goguen are no strangers to lawsuits.
Marshall was sued by Capital One Bank in May 2021 for failing to pay a credit card bill of more than $15,000.
According to a January 2020 story in the Whitefish Pilot, a California judge ruled in favor of Goguen in a counter-lawsuit he filed against a woman who claimed he abused her during their 13-year relationship.
Judge Danny Chou ruled in favor of Goguen in a proposed statement of decision in California Superior Court in December 2019, and awarded Goguen $10.25 million in damages. The judge ruled in favor of Goguen's counterclaims, including extortion, fraud, harassment and invasion of privacy.
The original lawsuit was filed three years ago by Amber Baptiste against Goguen, claiming he breached a settlement agreement to pay her $40 million following the end of their relationship. In the lawsuit, she alleged Goguen subjected her to countless hours of sexual and verbal abuse.
Goguen has continued to deny the allegations and subsequently filed a cross-complaint against Baptiste, alleging extortion.
In the decision, Goguen was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages against Baptiste and an additional $250,000 against Baptiste and her charity, Every Girl Counts.