Felony welfare fraud charge unwarranted for Harmony’s stepmom, attorney says

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Kayla Montgomery as she appeared in court Jan. 6, 2022. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – The stepmother of a missing child is asking the court for another bail hearing because her attorney says a state prosecutor told him the felony welfare fraud charge she is facing is unfounded, although she may be charged with a lesser offense.

Kayla Montgomery, 31, stepmother to 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery who was last accounted for in November 2019 and is now the subject of an intensive missing person case, was arraigned last week on a felony welfare fraud charge. She was accused of obtaining $2,450 in food stamps for the child when she wasn’t living with the family.

Montgomery, 31, then of 177 Lake Ave. but now detained in the Valley Street jail, pleaded not guilty last Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District to the offense.

However, on Monday Attorney Paul Garrity filed a motion with the court to reconsider/reopen the bail issue.

He said last Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, he was informed by New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General  Jesse O’Neil that he had received information that indicated the felony charge is unfounded, “although a  lesser charge or charges may be warranted.”

Garrity said since Montgomery is no longer facing a class A felony charge,  the issue of bail should be reopened.

Court documents supporting the original felony charge against Montgomery, said her husband Adam Montgomery, who is Harmony’s father, obtained full custody of his daughter on Feb. 22, 2019.

On that date, she added Harmony to her New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, Division of Family Assistance account.

Harmony was last seen by police in November 2019 but Montgomery continued to collect food stamps for the child for an additional 19 months, from Dec. 2019 through June 2021, according to court records.

The family’s monthly food stamps allotment increased by $129 per month beginning March 1, 2019, when Harmony was added.  The amount did not include additional COVID supplemental benefits.

Montgomery acknowledged to NH-DHHS personnel Harmony continued to be on the account even though she wasn’t living with the family but said she tried to remove her from it but was unsuccessful.  According to case management documents obtained by police, she did not make any request or attempt to remove Harmony from her household account until June 2, 2021.

She and Adam Montgomery have four children, three in common – ages 1, 2 and 4 – and Harmony.

Kayla told detectives the day after Thanksgiving Adam dropped her off at work and said he was going to bring Harmony to her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, in Devens, Mass. She said she hasn’t seen Harmony since.

Adam Montgomery is in jail, detained on charges of second-degree assault, a felony, and three misdemeanors, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one charge of interference with custody.   

Harmony Montgomery hasn’t been seen since November 2019 when she was 5-years-old.  Her father is accused of blackening her eye in July 2019. 

Police didn’t learn the child was missing until November 2021 when Crystal Sorey, Harmony’s biological mother, called them to say she hadn’t seen her daughter in more than six months.  Manchester police checked several addresses they had for Adam Montgomery, who had custody of Harmony, but couldn’t find him.

On Dec. 27, 2021, the state Division of Children, Youth and Families notified police they couldn’t find Harmony.  Police then opened an investigation into her whereabouts, learning she hadn’t been seen since October/November 2019.  

Presently, Kayla Montgomery is being held on $5,000 cash bail.

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About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.