A candidate running to represent west Denver on the City Council once stole $350,000 from a bank where he worked as a teller and $25,000 from his former boss in Boulder by opening fraudulent credit card accounts in his name.
As a teller at the First Interstate Bank in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Raymond Montoya withdrew $10,000 from a local company’s account 35 times between 2002 and 2003, according to news reports at the time.
He was 21 when he began the scheme, and reportedly flashed his money around with fancy cars, designer clothes and trips to Miami and Beverly Hills. The candidate lied about the origin of his wealth, he told Denverite, fibbing to some that he won the lottery and telling others he had a trust fund.
Montoya went to prison in 2004 on fraud and money laundering charges after pleading guilty in a Wyoming federal court.
After serving a two-year sentence, he committed identity theft in Boulder, where he worked as a receptionist for Tebo Properties. Montoya opened three fake credit card accounts under the name of his boss, Stephen Tebo, according to an arrest warrant. He spent about $25,000 before being caught.
Montoya returned to jail for about two years after pleading guilty to the felony. In December 2012, he was out of prison and off of probation.
The District 3 candidate was forthcoming when interviewed by Denverite.
“I never claimed to be innocent, I never claimed to not make poor choices,” he said in an interview. “It was a mistake, it was a poor choice on my behalf.”
He blamed his bank fraud on being young. He stole $25,000 from his former boss, he said, “out of desperation.”
“I didn’t have a job — I had a job but I didn’t make a livable wage,” Montoya said.
Montoya partly blames the criminal justice system for his choice to steal his boss’s identity. To have him tell it, his probation officer threatened to return him to prison if he did not pay up. (He was behind on restitution payments by $800 at the time of his arrest, the warrant states.)
Asked if he was describing bribery, Montoya said, “Pretty much.”
“They wanted payment towards fines, restitution,” he said. “They would come meet me in person and … they always believed I had money stashed somewhere and they said if I just … paid them then you can make my life easier. I told them, ‘I don’t have it.'”
Montoya recently told Denverite he is a “transportation specialist” for Sheridan School District No. 2. He is, more accurately, a bus driver.
Also, his LinkedIn page states that Montoya worked for Noland Stone Company as an executive assistant at a time when he was incarcerated.
Montoya claims his criminal past is actually good for his political future, but he does not advertise it.
The justice system is one reason he’s running, he told Denverite.
“We don’t say, ‘Hi, my name is Raymond and I’m a convicted felon,’ but people have asked,” he said. “Actually being a convicted felon and running for office is kind of what compelled me in the first place.”
The candidate claims he was a victim of the “school-to-prison pipeline” and believes his would-be west Denver constituents would understand and relate to that. He knows first-hand the importance of “ban the box” legislation, he said, which hinders employers from discriminating against former inmates.