SALT LAKE CITY — Three brothers caught up in the investigation of former Utah attorneys general Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow are suing the FBI for alleged heavy-handed tactics that they say violated their civil rights.
Robert Montgomery, JD Montgomery and Chase Montgomery claim in a federal lawsuit that FBI and Utah Department of Public Safety agents used excessive force in a search of their homes. They also claim they were maliciously prosecuted.
Robert Montgomery, owner of Emmediate Credit Solutions, hosted two fundraisers for Swallow's election campaign in August 2012. JD Montgomery and Chase Montgomery also worked at the business.
Investigators equipped an employee of the company, Adolph Travis Hards, with a wire recording device that he wore for four months in 2014, the lawsuit says. Hards has a lengthy criminal history including weapons charges, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, assault and burglary.
Hards left the company after a confrontation with Robert Montgomery in May 2014.
In August, agents wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles and automatic and semi-automatic weapons executed search warrants at the Montgomerys' homes. Investigators "threatened, and physically, verbally and emotionally abused plaintiffs and their wives and children, including an infant child," according to the lawsuit.
The three men were indicted in federal court with witness tampering and held in jail.
The lawsuit says Hards gathered no material information during the four months he wore a wire and that the Montgomerys couldn't have intended to influence him because they didn't know he was an informant.
"The recordings did not reveal any illegal activities between plaintiffs and Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow," according to the lawsuit.
Robert Montgomery told investigators he held the fundraisers for Swallow because he supported his campaign. He told them he didn't really know Shurtleff.
The government eventually dropped the witness tampering case against the Montgomerys.
In July 2014, state prosecutors charged Shurtleff and Swallow with a host of felonies, including bribery and accepting gifts. The case against Shurtleff was dropped in 2016. A jury acquitted Swallow on all counts after a monthlong trial last year.
FBI special agents Jon Isakson and Michelle Pickens, state investigator Scott Nesbitt, the FBI, the Salt Lake Public Corruption Task Force, the State Bureau of Investigation and Utah Department of Public Safety are named as defendants in the Montgomerys' lawsuit.
The complaint seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life and lost wages.
The FBI and the public safety department declined to comment.
Shurtleff filed a civil rights lawsuit in June against the same agencies and investigators as well as Salt County District Attorney Sim Gill.