Prosecutor: No need for bail hearing for Harmony’s stepmom; now facing 9 charges, including felony theft

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

January 12, 2022: Below, the Latest in this story

New charges for Kayla Montgomery, step-mother of missing Harmony Montgomery

MANCHESTER, NH – The stepmother of Harmony Montgomery is being charged with a class A felony charge of theft by deception and eight additional misdemeanor charges, according to a state prosecutor.

On Monday, defense attorney Paul Garrity asked the court to reconsider bail for Kayla Montgomery, 31, Harmony’s stepmother, saying Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Jesse O’Neill told him last Friday that the felony welfare fraud charge she was initially charged with was unfounded, although she could be facing a lesser offense.

On Tuesday, however, O’Neill filed a motion in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District saying it was out of an abundance of caution the state notified Garrity on Friday that additional documentation from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services potentially raised concern for the offense level of the welfare fraud charge.  

A preliminary review of the information, O’Neill said, made it appear the class A felony welfare fraud charge would have to be downgraded to a class B felony.  Garrity was told more information would be available on Monday.

On Monday, Garrity filed a  motion seeking a bail reduction for Montgomery.

However, O’Neill said on Monday DHHS gave him Montgomery’s file.  After reviewing the file and speaking with DHHS, O’Neill said not only is Montgomery being charged with a class A felony charge of theft by deception, but she is also going to be facing an additional eight misdemeanor charges under RSA 167:17-b, I(a).  That statute concerns obtaining public assistance and/or food stamps through fraud.

Garrity was seeking a bail review, based on the initial communication from the state.  O’Neill says because Montgomery will remain charged with a class A felony, albeit under a different statute, as well as another eight criminal charges, her motion should be denied and bail should remain as set.

The original felony welfare fraud charge will be nol-prossed, O’Neill said.

Montgomery, 31, was arraigned last week on the felony welfare fraud charge accusing her of obtaining more than $1,500 in food stamps for  Harmony, when she was not living with the family.  The child has not been seen for more than two years and law enforcement has been trying to find her since late December 2021 when they learned of her disappearance.  Montgomery was accused of receiving $129 a month in food stamps for a total of $2,450.

Montgomery, at the time of her arrest, was living with her three children at 17 Lake Ave., a Families in Transition facility.

She is estranged from her husband, Adam Montgomery, who is Harmony’s father. He obtained custody of his daughter on Feb. 22, 2019.

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

Montgomery continued to collect food stamps for the child for an additional 19 months, from Dec. 2019 through June 2021, even though she was missing, according to court records.

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.  Authorities said she did not request or attempt to remove Harmony from the 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 she believed Adam brought Harmony to her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, in Devens, Mass., the day after Thanksgiving 2019.

She said she hasn’t seen Harmony since.

Adam Montgomery is in jail, charged with second-degree assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one charge of interference with custody.   He is accused of hitting Harmony in July 2019, when she was 5-years-old, blackening her eye.

Police didn’t learn the child was missing until November 2021 when  Sorey 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, but couldn’t find him or the child.  They then notified DCYF of the situation.

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

For several days, police along with a team of investigators from the FBI, searched 77 Gilford St., the last address where Adam and Harmony Montgomery were known to live.  That search ended Monday without Harmony being found.

Presently, Kayla Montgomery is being held on $5,000 cash bail. She will be arraigned on the latest charges on Jan. 13 in Superior Court at which time another bail hearing is set. Adam Montgomery is being held in preventive detention, that is without bail.

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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.