by Sharon Rondeau

Photo: Sharon Rondeau

(Jul. 9, 2019) — As reported in Part 1 of this series, the narrative of former government contractor Dennis Montgomery continues to evolve as multiple parties spar over his role in, and knowledge and data acquired from, his work for the NSA and CIA, which ended in 2010.

Former CIA agent Kevin Shipp initially claimed that “The Hammer,” a super-computer allegedly used to harvest private information on American citizens outside of NSA norms and said to be at least partially-constructed by Montgomery, does not exist, while Mary Fanning and Alan Jones of “The American Report” say that the massive surveillance conducted by “The Hammer” is widespread and must be stopped in order to protect Americans’ constitutional rights.

Shipp more recently changed his view on “The Hammer” and said he believes it exists.

At 11:44 in a recent YouTube video, Shipp mentions “Sharon Rondeau” as having written about “The Hammer” in 2015, which is an accurate statement.  The Post & Email’s first report invoking “The Hammer” is dated November 18, 2015.

We are not acquainted with Shipp and have never made contact with him.

On Friday night, Fanning and Jones appeared on a YouTube broadcast hosted by Jason Goodman, who works with Shipp producing videos under the title, “Crowdsource the Truth.”  In Goodman’s interview and others with Dr. Dave Janda of “Operation Freedom,” Fanning and Jones claimed to have “broken the story” of government surveillance involving “The Hammer” (“The Hamr”) by transcribing the content of what they term the “Whistleblower Tapes.”

The recordings captured conversations among then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio; then-Maricopa County Cold Case Posse lead investigator Mike Zullo; Detective Brian Mackiewicz, Montgomery, and a businessman named Timothy Blixseth, in various combinations, between the latter part of 2013 and early 2014.

Among Montgomery’s claims to the MCSO was that more than 150,000 Maricopa County residents were victims of bank-account breaches conducted by a government entity. After Arpaio, Zullo and Mackiewicz interviewed Montgomery, Arpaio made the decision to hire him as a confidential informant to produce the data in an organized way so that investigators could determine whether or not a crime had, in fact, been committed against Arpaio’s constituents.

Zullo has said on numerous occasions that initially, Montgomery provided information on six thumb drives which proved to be “verifiable” to one degree or another.  In a June 20, 2019 article, The Post & Email reported Zullo as having said, “I did verify it.”

Early in 2014, Montgomery began the MCSO project at his office in Seattle, with Zullo and Mackiewicz assigned to oversee his progress.

In April 2015, the recordings unexpectedly became a flashpoint during civil-contempt proceedings against Arpaio and several of his deputies.  In the underlying case, Melendres, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow had already determined that Arpaio was in violation of his earlier orders and installed an out-of-state monitor to ensure future compliance for which Maricopa County residents were to pay.

On April 23, 2015, Snow cited a June 4, 2014 article by Stephen Lemons of The Phoenix New Times titled, “Joe Arpaio’s Investigating Federal Judge G. Murray Snow, DOJ, Sources Say, and Using a Seattle Scammer To Do It.”  Snow subsequently ordered Montgomery’s work product and all related materials collected and brought to his chambers.  As Fanning correctly stated on Friday, there were originally “50 hard drives” among the items turned over to Snow.

Court transcripts in the ongoing case from November 2015 show that an attorney for the plaintiffs admitted to having leaked the recordings to Lemons, who released them during the week of November 9, 2015 at his Soundcloud account as documented in our November 18, 2015 article.

On November 4, 2015, The Post & Email reported:

A source who has been following the developments in Melendres, et al v. Arpaio, et al closely has informed The Post & Email that the source of court documents and information to the Phoenix New Times (PNT), which openly opposes Maricopa County Sheriff and defendant Joseph M. Arpaio, is plaintiffs’ attorney Cecillia Wang.

The purpose of our November 18, 2015 article was to clarify our characterization of a statement Arpaio had made on one of the recordings.  On that day, Zullo told us that he was “very concerned that people are going to take this and run with it, and through the prism of their own understanding or by inference draw conclusions and start to propagate them as if they’re reality. They just need to slow down.”

Testifying in the federal civil-contempt case and without legal representation, Zullo originally invoked the Fifth Amendment when answering questions. However, during questioning from one of Arpaio’s attorneys on November 12, 2015, Zullo broke his silence and expounded on the Seattle operation and the Obama birth certificate investigation, which Zullo himself had led since August 2011.

After completing his testimony, Zullo told The Post & Email and “Freedom Friday” host Carl Gallups that local reporters who earlier asked to interview him afterward noticeably did not approach him.

Dennis Montgomery,” about whom this reporter has written extensively, is mentioned for the first time at The American Report on March 17, 2017.  On that date, the Zullo-Arpaio-Blixseth-Montgomery recordings were uploaded, and they also remain available at The American Report’s Soundcloud account, albeit under different titles than Lemons’s almost two years earlier.

The American Report produced two additional recordings under the titles, “Run Sheriff Arpaio’s Name Through Montgomery’s Database” and “Arizona Dept. of Public Safety Asks Arpaio: Is Montgomery A Paid Informant? 2/24/2016,” respectively.

It is undisputed that Zullo, acting under the authority of Sheriff Arpaio, made the recordings released to Lemons with his personal cell phone during the course of the investigation of Montgomery’s allegations.  On Friday’s broadcast, Fanning claimed that Zullo “illicitly and illegally” recorded Montgomery (24:40), a claim Zullo disputes.

In response to the Fanning/Jones/Goodman interview, Zullo told The Post & Email:

It is painfully obvious that Mary Fanning is way over her head, making such an outrageous, slanderous accusation of wrongdoing on my part based solely on the representations of Montgomery.

The information he gave us was acquired prior to his massive stroke, and the recordings were made before he suffered a major stroke during the investigation.  Since suffering a very serious stroke, Montgomery now signs emails stating that he is cognitively impaired due to a number of strokes he has suffered.  That disclaimer clearly indicates that he cannot be relied on for accuracy on any representation he makes.  A clear warning to anyone relying on his accounts of facts, again Montgomery diminishes his own credibility.  This does not seem to give Fanning any concern, nor did she attempt to verify his allegation.

The recordings in fact were made with the explicit consent of Montgomery, and that consent was established on the very first day Det. Mackiewicz and I met with him at his home in Seattle. Montgomery had advised us early on that he suffered from a brain aneurysm and that he could have a severe stroke or die without warning. That representation necessitated the need to preserve some of Montgomery’s initial contact for evidentiary purposes.  Mackiewicz and I looked at the statutes before we met with Montgomery, and the two-party rule pertains only to private conversations, not law enforcement in a face-to-face interview.

Montgomery’s tapes were never supposed to be publicly released.   Those were taken because he was telling us things that we had no idea the magnitude of, plus we wanted to preserve what he was telling us so there would be no mistake of misrepresentation or misinterpretation of what he was telling us and he could never come back and say he never said it.  On top of that, we needed the information to be preserved so that at some point in the future, we could accurately convey the information in a written report.

If I’m a private person in his residence, I can’t record him unless he says, “OK.”  However, law enforcement on official business engaged in a face-to-face conversation never has that burden to overcome; there’s no expectation of privacy because whenever you talk to the police, your information and the contents of your conversation may very well end up in a report, in court or used against you at a later date, all accessible by the public at some point in time.  This only applies to in-person, face-to-face communication.

[Editor’s Note:  The statute regarding recording conversations in Washington State, where Zullo and Mackiewicz met with Montgomery, prohibits the recording, without all parties’ consent, of “private” conversations.

So there’s no expectation of privacy, and in Montgomery’s case, especially because he was reporting criminal activity to law enforcement, solicits the assistance of law enforcement and invites law enforcement into his residence to relay the information and provide evidence of the same, he was well aware of the purpose and those conversations are not protected.  While it was not required, we did in fact advise him that we would be recording periodically as we moved forward.  He had no issue and he consented.

As a matter of fact, there are other recordings and video evidence that were not released to the public that clearly depict Montgomery fully aware he was being recorded during his numerous interviews with us. In addition, Montgomery filed numerous whistleblower complaints detailing information and gave Fox News a two-day video interview about his claims, hardly the actions of a person seeking privacy.

And for the record, I would like to correct misinformation about the release of those tapes propagated by Fanning.  The tapes were never released by Judge Snow.  She is incorrect. They were released by the ACLU to Stephen Lemons of the PNT without consent of the court or my consent.  They just did it and only took responsibility for doing so in open court when they thought it may turn into a problem.  This is verifiable in court transcripts.  It is the ACLU that released the tapes, not the court, not me and not MCSO.

Right at the onset I said to Brian, “I’m going to come out and tell this guy that I’m going to have to tape him periodically.”  I thought it was better because I could gauge his reaction, and if he declined it would have been a red flag to us.  Also I didn’t want to have to worry about the taping of something surreptitiously and not focusing on what he was saying. I was not interested in wearing a wire. I had no need.

It was made very clear to Montgomery that periodically through this I was going to be taping him, and he clearly agreed. There are other recordings and videotapes that were never released by the public that show me recording him and him turning around and looking at me holding the camera as I’m saying, “Hang on, I have to get the camera; I can’t see this.”

Those recordings were never intended to be released, and they weren’t used in any fashion to harm Montgomery; they were merely preserving for our record what he was sharing with us.  If Montgomery has an issue with that now, that’s just too bad.

Mary Fanning, on the other hand, has made an unconscionable accusation which is not only defamatory and slanderous, but actionable.  She should be ashamed of herself.  She needs to slow down before she finds herself in real legal trouble. This type of nonsense I will not tolerate.

This is not the first time Montgomery has lied about me.  This is what Montgomery will do: his story will morph; it will be forever changing as the political climate or more information comes through; he will try to make himself more relevant and dirty you along the way.

The Hammer is 20-year-old technology; I doubt they’re even using it anymore.  But he needs to be the story. He needs to be the victim. It has been my experience he will twist the truth or just make things up to suit his needs at that point in time, truth be damned.  That’s why I’ve said for years that I’m not a proponent of Dennis Montgomery; he has some information and he has a story to tell.  But credibility has always been an issue for him.

In my opinion, Mary Fanning is being duped.  Montgomery is the puppeteer and Fanning is a puppet on the string.  Listening to her interview it is painfully obvious she only has a cursory understanding of the matter.  She has no in-depth knowledge other than what has been reported by you or others, or being told by Montgomery.  She has no way to corroborate anything Montgomery tells her.  She has made zero effort to corroborate his accusation.  And she has no idea of the many facets and dynamics of that investigation and the other clandestine motives involved.  Yet she is willing reporting his every word like it was the gospel truth.  Unsubstantiated truth.

She is the perfect mark of a guy like Montgomery.  It is obvious she is not impartial in her reporting on this issue.  She makes claims that she and her partner, Alan Jones, are responsible for breaking the story of The Hammer, the tapes and whatever else she claims, none of which is true.  Sharon, you wrote about this long before Mary Fanning.  I should know; I gave you the interviews.  In my opinion, and as someone who lived this saga, Fanning is just in way over her head and desperately seeking recognition which is undeserved.  Her reporting on this issue should be viewed through a lens of heavy skepticism. It is inaccurate, filled with conjecture and supposition, and that description is being kind.


Editor’s Note:  Part 3 of this series will follow shortly.

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  1. Mary Fanning said Montgomery wants nothing to do with Zullo, why the antipathy?

    Montgomery file’s a formal complaint against Zullo with the MCSO. They had their internal affairs division open an investigation.

    What were the results of that investigation?