SUSAN GALLAGHER Associated Press HELENA
A federal border agent still recovering from what the FBI says was a case of poisoning last year has returned home to Shelby after his latest hospitalization, this time for a fall in the yard at his house. Denton Moberly said he was released from Benefis Healthcare in Great Falls on Sunday and likely will receive follow-up care at the Salt Lake City hospital where he was treated after being poisoned in February 2008. Moberly, 43, said he falls "from time to time" the latest incident was last Wednesday because of nerve and brain damage from chemical poisoning. Investigators have "leads, but nothing as fruitful as we would have liked," FBI spokesman Juan Becerra said Monday. Becerra said the case is acknowledged as a poisoning. The federal Office of Workers' Compensation Programs is not convinced Moberly was poisoned on the job and has denied his request for compensation. Moberly said he became ill after eating food he bought at the drive-through window of a Cut Bank restaurant while in his marked, U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle. Moberly said he had a metallic taste in his mouth after eating a cheeseburger. He said he later sipped a milkshake from the same restaurant but did not finish the drink because "it tasted horrible," which he has been told likely resulted from the lingering effect of the burger. He became violently ill, has been through a series of hospitalizations and rehabilitation programs, has been unable to work and says he is fighting denial of his request for compensation through the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. A document from agency official Edward Duncan said that "we have no real evidence that Mr. Moberly was in fact poisoned while in the performance of duty and that there is a disabling medical condition linked to that event," KSEN-AM of Shelby reported in April. The radio station also reported that the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs said that further medical examination of Moberly would occur in New York, with the office paying for the trip. Moberly said Customs and Border Protection pays him a portion of the salary he was receiving, his employer-assisted health insurance continues and a fundraiser held by members of the border agency and his church provided some money for medical expenses, but the health ordeal has been devastating financially, nonetheless. His wife, Sheila, is a bank teller, he said. He said he thinks he was sickened last year through "a random attack on law enforcement in general. I'm relatively sure that I wasn't targeted as an individual. I had not been here long enough to make any enemies." Moberly moved from the Laredo, Texas, area to Shelby two years ago. He said he thought the Montana community would provide a better environment for his family. The father of three said his 12-year-old daughter found him collapsed in the yard of their home last Wednesday. He had recently stopped using a wheelchair and wears a leg brace. He said he expects to make an almost full return to good health, although he cannot predict how soon. "My mental condition right now is the best that it's been since this happened," he said Monday. He has regained some reading and spelling ability, he said, but counting change is a challenge. He received speech therapy and converses slowly, with occasional hesitation. The FBI is offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the Moberly case.