Would-be Montana Jail Operator has Theft Conviction

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A former Secret Service agent named as the would-be operator of a Montana jail and law enforcement training center served 14 months in prison for stealing money from the government. Michael Cohen was a supervisor with the Secret Service before his 2004 conviction on charges of stealing $2,800 from the agency.

Now a private security industry contractor in Ohio, Cohen was named by Santa Ana, California-based American Police Force as the future overseer of a jail the company hopes to take over in rural Hardin. Cohen says he spoke with the company's lead figure, Michael Hilton, about the position but was never offered the job.

The jail takeover was put on hold by Hardin officials this week following revelations that Hilton has an extensive history of fraud in southern California. That includes convictions in two grand theft cases.

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