Wyoming news briefs for July 16
Teen joy ride causes more than $40,000 damage
GILLETTE — Two teenagers were arrested and a third is still at large after they were caught driving a stolen pickup through Fox Park and the Energy Capital Sports Complex on Wednesday night, causing more than $40,000 in damage in the process.
A call first came in of a suspected drunken driver when a 26-year-old woman reported she saw a white 2006 Chevy pickup collide with a portable toilet at Fox Park then crash through her own fence and drive in circles through her backyard, said Police Lt. Kelly Alger.
Officers found empty alcohol bottles, broken glass and a backpack at the park.
A few minutes later, another call came in reporting the pickup had busted through a fence at the Energy Capital Sports Complex.
When police arrived, bystanders had one of the suspects, age 14, apprehended. The witnesses said there were two more boys who ran off. Officers tracked down a 16-year-old boy, but the third suspect was still unidentified as of Thursday morning.
It was later learned that the truck was stolen and both teenagers were taken to jail. Both teenagers are thought to have been “impaired to some degree,” Alger said.
Estimated damage to the backyard, both parks and the truck is more than $40,000.
“Most of that is going to be fencing that they just drove through until the truck was no longer operational and that’s when they ran, is my understanding,” Alger said.
Both teenagers were arrested for felony conspiracy to commit destruction of property and felony theft, Alger said.
Judge freezes assets in $15 million fraud case
RIVERTON — Former Wyoming Catholic College chief financial officer Paul McCown of Lander has been ordered by a federal judge not to make any financial transactions other than routine purchases and exchanges.
McCown is accused in a federal suit filed in June of acquiring a $15 million loan under false pretenses, then distributing most of the money to several recipients.
The plaintiff in the case, investment services firm RIA R Squared, filed suit against McCown on June 22, alleging that McCown pretended he was worth more than $750 million in order to reap a $15 million loan from the company.
The complaint states the fraud was achieved by McCown through forgery of bank statements pertaining to his account, and by his own impersonation of Wyoming Community Bank vice president Kendall Hayford, whom RIA R Squared attempted to contact to confirm McCown’s standing.
On June 23, RIA R Squared filed a request for a preliminary injunction against McCown, which would forbid the Lander man from making unusual transfers of his funds –– or “dissipating, disposing of, liquidating, disseminating, and/or transferring, directly or indirectly, any of (his) personal assets or any assets of entities they own or control, other than in the ordinary course of business or personal affairs.”
Man found not guilty on sexual exploitation charges
GILLETTE — A man accused of six counts of sexual exploitation of children for possessing child pornography was found not guilty on all six charges.
Terrill Kim Morris, aka Terril Kim Morris, 56, had been accused of knowingly possessing and watching six videos that showed young boys engaged in sexual conduct. The videos were found while Morris was being investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of two boys.
District Judge Thomas W. Rumpke presided over the trial, which happened Monday and Tuesday.
After deliberating for about two hours, the jury came to a verdict of not guilty on all counts.
Morris’s attorney, Public Defender Richard Weisheimer, said the police charged Morris because they were uncomfortable with the videos he was watching.
Morris, a registered sex offender from Washington, moved to Gillette in 2019.
The sexual abuse accusations were not brought up during this week’s trial. Morris will be tried on those charges at a later date.
When the Gillette Police Department was investigating Morris for the alleged sexual abuse investigation, Detective Julianne Witham found eight videos on Morris’s phone depicting young boys engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This led to eight counts of sexual exploitation of children. Two of the counts were later dropped.
The jury, made up of eight women and four men, watched the six videos and were tasked with determining whether the people in the videos were children or adults.
Brewers, council team up to warn about invasive pests
CHEYENNE — Wyoming Weed and Pest Council and the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild are partnering on an initiative to help inform the public about the threat of invasive weeds and pests.
Members of the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild recently released a Fruited Wheat Ale collaboration brew and offered a limited-edition pint glass sponsored by Wyoming Weed and Pest Council and PlayCleanGo, a national education campaign focused on preventing the spread of invasive species.
Invasive insects and plants cost the U.S. an estimated $40 billion annually in damages to trees, plants, crops and related management efforts. They can threaten the economy, food supply, environment and, in some cases, even public health.
The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council and PlayCleanGo are committed to stopping the spread through awareness, education and community engagement.
To learn more about the 2021 Fruited Wheat Ale collaboration and where you can grab a pint, visit wyocraftbrewersguild.comand click on the Events tab. For more information about Wyoming Weed and Pest Council, visit wyoweed.org. To learn more about what you can do to help stop the spread of invasive weeds and species, visit PlayCleanGo.org.