Billings Gazette
October 10, 2009

[efoods]The Hardin jail deal is off, said a spokeswoman for the cryptic California company contracted to run the for-hire hoosegow, now two years empty.

Becky Shay, spokeswoman for American Police Force, said Friday that her company withdrew its offer to operate the 464-bed facility. The announcement comes after investigative reporters revealed that APF’s frontman, Serbian immigrant Michael Hilton, has a criminal record and that some APF claims about its jail proposal were bogus.

The canceled deal leaves Hardin’s economic development arm, Two Rivers Authority, which owns the jail, without a contractor yet again. Officials for the organization did not respond to interview requests Friday.

“TRA deserves a less-controversial partner,” Shay said.

Shay also said the jail required more than $1 million in infrastructure improvements, including medical equipment and repairs needed because it stood empty for so long. Outdoor security cameras that have now weathered two winters need repair. Heavy steel doors inside that have hung open on tired hinges need to be trued up. The building didn’t have heat when Shay took office space there two weeks ago, she said. In a digital world, the facility has an analog phone system.

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