An alleged con artist dubbed the "Casanova Con" on Tuesday asked a Missoula County district judge to dismiss the charges against him, in part because they were filed under one of his many aliases.
Matthew McClintock is accused of scamming Montanans out of $20,000, promising local investors would receive royalties from a cowboy documentary narrated by Clint Eastwood and advised by University of Montana history professor Dr. William Farr. However, neither Eastwood nor Farr was involved in the film.
He also allegedly told investors their names would be listed in the credits and a portion of the royalties would go to the nonexistent Western Montana Breast Cancer Fund.
Wearing a cowboy hat and a leg brace, McClintock appeared before Missoula County District Judge Robert "Dusty" Deschamps for his arraignment Tuesday afternoon. McClintock represented himself, but didn't enter a plea.
He apologized for his "shaky voice," telling the judge he had a "seizure disorder and I am still recovering from it."
"I had to step outside for a moment," he said.
He said his real name is Michael Willis, later clarifying at Deschamps' request that it is Albert Michael Willis. Both names – along with five others – are listed as aliases in the charging documents.
McClintock told the court that state prosecutors had acted with "malice" and filed the documents under the wrong name. He then asked Deschamps to dismiss the case.
Deschamps said he would not rule on the request from the bench and if McClintock was so inclined, he could file a motion in writing.
"You have the right to represent yourself," Deschamps said. "However, there's an old saying that he who represents himself has a fool for a client, and there's a lot of truth to that statement. So my strong advice to you, sir, is to get an attorney. And if you can't get one, then I will appoint one."
McClintock agreed to receive assistance from the public defender's office, but then asked Deschamps to impose a gag order in the case.
Deschamps also denied that motion, reminding him that future motions can be filed with the help of his public defender.
"No sir, it's not OK," McClintock said. "But I accept the court's recommendation."
McClintock left the courthouse directly after the hearing and wasn't available for comment later in the afternoon.
His arraignment was continued for Sept. 8 at 1:30 p.m.
You have free articles remaining.
In total, McClintock faces seven felony charges, including theft and fraudulent practices.
Court documents filed by prosecutors with Montana's Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance allege he scammed 70 individual victims and nine businesses. He allegedly made several presentations around Missoula, including one at Providence St. Patrick Hospital, "where he touted the future contribution to the Western Montana Breast Cancer Fund."
Instead of investing the money in the film or the fictitious breast cancer fund, McClintock allegedly spent the money on Internet bills, food and restaurants, his car, and $575 on a hat.
Two of his alleged victims, Jim Rather and Kelly Bigelow, attended his arraignment Tuesday. Before realizing the allegedly were duped by McClintock, Rather, of Rocky Mountain Scale Works, invested $1,500 into the film, while Bigelow's firm, Brand Edge Marketing, donated weeks of work to the project.
Both Bigelow and Rather said they were embarrassed and felt betrayed by McClintock. Now, they want to see McClintock brought to justice for his alleged schemes.
"I'd like the scam to stop, and this person to receive whatever sentence he gets through the justice system," Rather said. "Apparently, he does not respect the law."
Jesse Laslovich, chief legal counsel for the Montana securities and insurance commissioner, said if prosecutors obtain a guilty plea or verdict, they could ask that McClintock be sentenced to 60 years in prison.
"It's about getting a conviction, getting restitution and getting a sentence that will hold him accountable," Laslovich said.
If McClintock is convicted of the charges, it won't be the first time.
According to the state offender registry, he was sentenced to five years with the Department of Corrections in 2012 for a 2008 charge of deceptive practices, meaning he was on probation for the previous crime when he solicited investors in Missoula.
According to the Oklahoma Securities Commission, McClintock previously used Internet dating sites to scam vulnerable women out of thousands of dollars and has a lengthy criminal history as a con artist. A video by the commission and Oklahoma's Invest Ed program dubbed him the "Cassanova Con."
"He's a seasoned criminal," Bigelow said. "He's been doing this for over 30 years."