9th Circuit denies reducing Montgomery’s 20-year sentence


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the U.S. District Court for the NMI’s order that denied a motion to reduce the sentence of Bert Douglas Montgomery, who was slapped with a sentence of 20 years in prison in 2003 for his role in the conspiracy to defraud the Bank of Saipan.

Ninth Circuit judges William C. Canby Jr., A. Wallace Tashima, and Michelle T. Friedland said the District Court correctly rejected Montgomery’s claim that he was eligible for a sentence reduction under Amendment 794 to the sentencing guidelines.

Amendment 794 generally adopted the approach of the Ninth Circuit and the Seventh District that when a district court conducts an assessment whether a defendant should receive a role reduction, “the defendant is to be compared with the other participants” in the crime, not with a hypothetical average participant.

The appellate judges pointed out that the sentencing guideline does not include Amendment 794 on its list of covered amendments.

The judges cited that in the U.S. v. Ornelas case, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court has the authority to lower a sentence if the defendant’s guideline range has been lowered as a result of an amendment listed in the sentencing guidelines.

The judges said Montgomery does not challenge this conclusion on appeal.

Rather, the judges said, Montgomery renewed his arguments that the district court lacked jurisdiction over his underlying criminal case, and asserted several new arguments, challenging his convictions.

Montgomery appealed pro se or without a lawyer.

In December 2013, then-U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Alex R. Munson imposed a 20-year prison term on Montgomery for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud: deprivation of honest services, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and three counts of money laundering.

Munson ordered Montgomery—together with two co-defendants—to pay Bank of Saipan $5.2million in restitution and $109,980 to Michelle Hom, a bank customer.
One of Montgomery’s co-defendants committed suicide in August 2003.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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