Harmony Montgomery’s step-mom given plea offer on theft charges

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Kayla Montgomery is escorted into court for an arraignment and bail hearing scheduled in State of NH vs. Kayla Montgomery. File Photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Boston Globe Staff

MANCHESTER, NH – Prosecutors have made a plea offer in the theft and welfare fraud case of Kayla Montgomery, stepmother to missing 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill, at Thursday’s hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, said the offer was only made because the state is required to do so.

Montgomery, who is being detained in the Valley Street jail, did not attend the brief hearing, which was to determine the status of the case, that is if a plea agreement had been worked out, if a trial should be set, etc.

Neither side appeared ready for trial.

O’Neill told Judge Amy Messer that the state considers it relevant to discovery that the charges against Montgomery alleged she obtained more than $1,500 in food stamps by claiming Harmony as a member of the household when the child was missing. So far, he said, the state has turned over about 3,500 pages of discovery.

Defense Attorney Paul J. Garrity said he and prosecutors have had some discussions concerning the case but that he was asking for more time so that further discussions can take place. 

Outside the courtroom, Garrity told reporters he didn’t see anything in documents turned over by the state that would connect his client to whatever happened to Harmony.

“Right now, it’s just a theft case against Kayla,” he said.

The search for Harmony has been ongoing since late last year when police learned that the child hadn’t been seen since November/December 2019 or more than two years.

On Thursday, O’Neill said the investigation is “extremely active” and that police are talking to dozens of people. “We do feel we are making progress,” he said.

Montgomery, 31, is charged with a class A felony of theft by deception and two misdemeanor counts of acts prohibited for welfare fraud.

She was arrested at a Lake Avenue family shelter where she was staying with her three children.

Montgomery is estranged from her husband, Adam Montgomery, 32, who is Harmony’s father. He obtained custody of his daughter on Feb. 22, 2019, according to Lawrence, Mass. Juvenile Court.

On that date, Kayla Montgomery added Harmony to her NH-DHHS, New Hampshire Division of Family Assistance, account.

Montgomery continued to collect food stamps for the child from Dec. 2019 through June 2021, even though she was missing, according to court records.

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

Kayla told detectives she believed Adam brought Harmony to her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, in Devens, Mass., the day after Thanksgiving 2019.

She told investigators she hasn’t seen Harmony since.

Adam Montgomery waived arraignment earlier this week on eight new felony charges involving the theft of a rifle and gun.  He also is charged with being an armed career criminal, which on conviction carries a mandatory 10 to 40 years in state prison.

He has been detained in the Valley Street jail since his arrest on New Year’s Eve 2021 on charges of child endangerment and second-degree assault.  He is accused of blackening Harmony’s eye in the summer of 2019.

Judge Messer set a further hearing for June 9.


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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.