Former Boeing worker gets 5-month jail term


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Former Boeing worker gets 5-month jail term
By Joseph A. Slobodzian

Inquirer Staff Writer
A former sheet-metal assembler at Boeing Co. who admitted sabotaging a $23.8 million Army Chinook helicopter out of stress and job frustration was sentenced yesterday to five months in federal prison and five months of house arrest.

> Matthew K. Montgomery apologized to Boeing, fellow union members - the May 10 incident put union workers under suspicion and forced a two-day halt in production at the Delaware County plant - his family and friends.

> "Never did I think my actions would bring so much anxiety and stress to so many people," Montgomery, 33, told U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick, adding, "I now know that a factory environment is not a place for me."

> Surrick acknowledged the testimony of Montgomery's pastor, the Rev. Andrew Hudson of Chelten Baptist Church in Dresher, and agreed Montgomery seemed rehabilitated and unlikely to commit another crime.

> But Surrick said he believed a prison term was needed to deter others "from engaging in the same kind of conduct."

> Montgomery will surrender to federal prison officials Feb. 17. After five months in prison, Surrick said, Montgomery will be confined to his Trevose home for five months with electronic monitoring.

> Surrick ordered Montgomery to pay Boeing restitution totaling $110,500. Montgomery will pay $200 a month over three years of supervised release when his confinement ends.

> The incident to which Montgomery pleaded guilty was one of several last year at the Ridley Park plant.

> A second incident - in which Montgomery had no role - involved a wrong washer installed in a transmission. Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Votaw said a probe of the washer incident continues.

> In November, work on military aircraft was again suspended, for five days, after a plastic cap was found in the fuel line of a V-22 Osprey aircraft.

> The incident resulted in work-rule changes, but no Boeing workers were disciplined, and officials have not discovered how the cap got there.

> According to court records, Montgomery worked at Boeing's Rotorcraft Systems Division since September 2006, assigned to the line assembling combat-ready versions of the CH-47F helicopter.

> Unhappy with the assignment, Montgomery lobbied for transfer to another job. On May 10, Montgomery was on his last shift working on a Chinook set for Sept. 1 completion. Montgomery admitted that before ending his shift, he took wire cutters and cut halfway through a two-inch thick bundle of 150 wires running from the cockpit to the avionics for the large two-rotor helicopter.

> Defense attorney Maranna J. Meehan argued for a probationary sentence, telling Surrick that Montgomery was serious about his rehabilitation and reimbursing Boeing.

> Since he was arrested and fired last May, Montgomery has worked as a $33,000-a-year supervisor for Impact Thrift Stores Inc., a chain of second-hand shops operated by his church. Hudson said he is also a steady volunteer at the church's food bank.

> Votaw said she did not disagree with Meehan's assessment but argued for a prison term within the 10 to 16 months recommended by federal sentencing guidelines.

> "The public needs to understand that consequences come as a result of one's actions," Votaw said.