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Man claims he spied on Muslims for FBI

Craig Monteilh, foreground, with his attorney Adam Krolikowski outside the West Covina courthouse.
Brian Watt/KPCC
Craig Monteilh, foreground, with his attorney Adam Krolikowski outside the West Covina courthouse.

A man who says he spied on Muslims in the Southland for the FBI says West Covina Superior Court records will back up his claim. That court will decide later this week whether to unseal those records.

Craig Monteilh, 47, is preparing to sue the FBI for $10 million. He claims his FBI handlers allowed his wrongful arrest and conviction for grand theft two years ago.

"They essentially destroyed this man’s life," said Adam Krolikowski, Monteilh’s attorney, outside the West Covina Superior Courthouse on Monday. "He trusted them to do what they said they were going to do and in the end, he was allowed to go to prison and his family was allowed to be ripped apart."

Monteilh alleges that the FBI recruited him and trained him to gain the confidence of Muslims - and to infiltrate area mosques. Monteilh said the agents encouraged him to memorize the Koran and educate himself on sensitive political topics.

"I was instructed to converse with Muslims using this knowledge to gain their confidence and obtain as much information as I possibly could about their beliefs and the beliefs of their family and friends," said Monteilh, "all the while recording them with sophisticated electronic equipment the FBI supplied to me and trained me to use."

The FBI won’t comment on his assertions.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller refuted suggestions that FBI agents send informants into mosques to entrap individuals of Muslim faith.

"It would be only fair to the Muslim American community to report that the FBI does not investigate houses of worship or religious groups," she said. "But people who are alleged to be involved in criminal activity, regardless of their affiliations, religious or otherwise."

Monteilh and his attorney say sealed West Covina Superior Court records will support his case. Along with the American Civil Liberties Union, they’ve asked the court to make those records public.

"We believe this is the first step in establishing – clearly and honestly – who Craig Monteilh is," attorney Krolikowski said.

Superior Court Judge Carol Williams Elswick said the court will review the documents and issue a decision on whether to unseal them Thursday.