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Palm Beach woman who won't leave mother's estate gave away pricey cars, jewelry, wine

Courtnay Montgomery sought to deprive trustees of Bentley, Rolls-Royce, cops say

Courtnay Montgomery is accused of giving away expensive jewelry, silverware, wine and cars from her mother's Palm Beach estate so that the trustees couldn't take possession of the property.
Courtnay Montgomery is accused of giving away expensive jewelry, silverware, wine and cars from her mother's Palm Beach estate so that the trustees couldn't take possession of the property.

PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Palm Beach woman was arrested Wednesday after she gave away her elderly mother's pricey jewelry and silverware collection, vintage wines, a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce so that the trustees of the estate couldn't take possession of the property, an arrest report revealed.

Courtnay Montgomery, 52, faces two counts of grand theft over $100,000 and one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft.

According to an arrest report obtained Thursday by Local 10 News, Montgomery was living with her mother at 1800 S. Ocean Blvd. until July 14, 2016, when Mary Montgomery was relocated to an assisted living facility across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach.

Courtnay Montgomery has been living alone at the Palm Beach estate ever since, against the will of her mother and the trustees, court documents allege.

Court records show that the Northern Trust is the contracted trustee for Mary Montgomery's estate. The trust agreement states that the "corporate trustee (or its agent) shall have the sole custody of the assets constituting the trust estate."

John Cramer and J.R. Neason were designated as legal guardians of the estate in March 2016. Their relationship to Mary Montgomery was not revealed in the documents.

During recorded depositions in February, Hilda Santana, who is a custodian of the trust, and Michael Strickland, the managing director of the Northern Trust, claimed they opened the safes at the home and found that the contents were missing.

In March, Cramer and his lawyer were doing an inventory check when they found Mary Montgomery's 2015 Bentley and 2013 Rolls-Royce missing from the garages. They said the cars had been there during the last inventory check before Mary Montgomery moved.

Among the missing items were Mary Montgomery's jewelry collection, which is valued at more than $5.5 million; more than $1 million worth of silverware; more than $81,000 worth of wine and the two cars, which together are worth $454,900.

Police traced the stolen cars to the home of Charles Kelley in Port St. Lucie. Police said Kelley told them that Courtnay Montgomery gave him and his wife a large amount of wine and silverware, the latter of which he sold to a dealer for $50,000.

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According to the arrest report, Kelley said he met Courtnay Montgomery through her landscaper. He told police that Courtnay Montgomery gave him the silverware, wine and cars, which he had been holding for her while she was in the midst of a court battle involving Northern Trust.

Kelley's wife, Denedia Kelley, said Courtnay Montgomery told them to "go drive the cars and have fun."

Police interviewed the former landscaper, Bruce Armstrong, who said Courtnay Montgomery "instructed him to tell Charles to store the cars in a storage unit or shipping container."

A lawsuit filed July 21, 2016 -- a few days after Mary Montgomery moved -- claims that the Northern Trust is the legal owner of the estate and the property within. The complaint claims that Mary Montgomery "had no choice but to vacate" the home because of her daughter's refusal to leave. It also claims that the trustees have the "fiduciary duties to protect and collect assets" of the trust.

Northern Trust's position is that Courtnay Montgomery "has refused to relinquish possession" and is living there "against the consent" of the trust.

Palm Beach County civil court records show that Courtnay Montgomery filed a complaint in August 2016 to have Santana removed as a trustee. The case remains open.

In that complaint, Courtnay Montgomery claims that "Santana, in concert with John Cramer, caused Mary Montgomery to be taken from her family home of 20-plus years -- away from her familiar and comfortable surroundings; away from her social life and care by her only daughter; away from the companionship of her beloved parrots, swans and dogs."

The lawsuit claims that Santana and Cramer stopped maintenance of the home. It also alleges that Mary Montgomery fired Santana, who was her bookkeeper, in 2015, but that Santana continued to pay herself from Mary Montgomery's accounts.

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According to the lawsuit, Santana's cousin, Yam Martinez, who also worked for and was later fired by Montgomery, did the same.

Courtnay Montgomery's complaint claims that they made false allegations against her in retaliation for being fired and are trying to "financially exploit" Mary Montgomery.

A court order filed April 13 granted the trustees permission to enter the home, with police, if necessary, to evaluate the property inside.

Jail records show that Courtnay Montgomery was released early Thursday on a $30,000 bond.


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