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President Donald Trump departing Air Force One following his arrival in Las Vegas on Sep. 12, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

As he tries to alter the reality of losing the 2020 election, President Donald Trump is relying on high-tech sleight-of-hand artist and former Nevada businessman Dennis Montgomery to help spread misinformation about widespread voter fraud.

As first reported in The Daily Beast, Montgomery is playing an integral role in promoting Trump’s narrative of a grand conspiracy by the Democratic Party to deny him a second term through the underhanded use of secret computer software called “Hammer” and “Scorecard.”

If they’re anything like some of Montgomery’s previous claims, it should be called  “bullshit.”

Some may recall Montgomery’s role with the Reno-based software company eTreppid, which managed to land more than $20 million in contracts with the federal government, including the CIA, in the post-9/11 war on terror. Montgomery developed computer codes he claimed could detect al Qaeda terrorist plots in Al Jazeera network broadcasts. He also claimed his software could identify terrorists from Predator drone videos and enemy submarines as well. 

Montgomery’s malarkey was so persuasive that President George W. Bush once turned around commercial jetliners from Britain, France, and Mexico. His other “intelligence” production resulted in dead ends and wasted efforts. The CIA eventually determined that his software was fake and very quietly ended its association with him.

When Montgomery’s computer software was exposed as a scam, The New York Times reported in 2011, the CIA sought to cover up its embarrassing association. “The government knew this technology was bogus, but these guys got paid millions for it,” Montgomery’s former attorney Michael Flynn told the Times. An ex-intelligence official added, “We got played.”

In Nevada, Montgomery’s notoriety spiked during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign when he accused then-candidate Jim Gibbons, a two-term Congressman, of accepting $100,000 in cash and a lavish cruise in exchange for his help in securing government contracts. An investigation eventually cleared Gibbons of wrongdoing.

By then, Montgomery’s former co-workers were telling the FBI agents that he had often changed his software’s test results prior to presentations for government officials. His supposedly sophisticated expertise was revealing itself as a lucrative deception, and it was unraveling. The FBI investigation into stolen sensitive government technology was short-circuited when a judge tossed the search warrant.

Montgomery’s relationship with eTreppid co-founder Warren Trepp, a wealthy former junk bond salesman, collapsed in a vicious litigation. During the civil trial, a federal judge in April 2009 ordered Montgomery’s attorneys to pay fines and sanctions of more than $300,000 after they were caught forum shopping. Montgomery was personally hit with $61,323 in court sanctions for perjury. Montgomery’s previous attorney Flynn called him a “con man.”

These days we can call him a “friend of the President.”

This is also the same Montgomery whose high-rolling blackjack play at Caesars Palace and the Palazzo resulted in $1.8 million in debts and a six-count felony indictment in 2010 in Las Vegas for bad checks and obtaining money under false pretenses.

According to court documents, the case remains pending more than a decade after the indictment. A September status hearing produced a note in the court file indicating Montgomery had been instructed by his doctor not to travel. The matter was continued for another six months. 

Montgomery busted out in Las Vegas and eventually declared bankruptcy, but he wasn’t finished playing. He became a well-paid confidential informant for the Arizona law enforcement paragon and right-wing icon, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Montgomery claimed he possessed software that could prove the federal judge in Arpaio’s racial profiling case was colluding with the prosecution. Montgomery separated from “America’s Sheriff” after his software hustle was exposed, but not before separating $124,000 from the department’s snitch fund. Arpaio was convicted, but later pardoned by Trump.

As The Daily Beast reported, Montgomery tapped into Trump supporters angered at the intelligence community and former FBI Director James Comey over their investigation into Trump’s campaign, and “Montgomery reinvented himself as an aggrieved intelligence whistleblower.” Represented by right-wing firebrand Larry Klayman—himself no stranger to Nevada politics—Montgomery sued President Barack Obama, Comey and other officials.  He claimed in part that Montgomery had possessed 47 hard drives full of evidence linking the government to an illegal surveillance program at an Army base that victimized both Klayman and Montgomery.

Just days before the election, Montgomery was linked to misinformation floated on The American Report, a conspiracy theory website, that declared, “Biden Using SCORECARD and THE HAMMER to Steal Another U.S. Presidential Election.” Montgomery was credited with “inventing” the software, which he claimed was misappropriated by the Obama administration to fix the election.

The specious story has now ricocheted through the Internet and gone from obscurity into the talking points of Trumplandia insiders.

And Dennis Montgomery is in the middle of his grandest deception of all.

John L. Smith is an author and longtime columnist. He was born in Henderson and his family’s Nevada roots go back to 1881. His stories have appeared in Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, Ruralite and Desert Companion, among others. He also offers weekly commentary on Nevada Public Radio station KNPR. His newest book—a biography of iconic Nevada civil rights and political leader, Joe Neal — “Westside Slugger: Joe Neal’s Lifelong Fight for Social Justice” is published by University of Nevada Press and is available at Amazon.com. Contact him at [email protected] On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith

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