NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, Aug. 31, 2020

Woman accused of embezzling more than $300,000

RIVERTON (WNE) — A Riverton woman has been charged with stealing more than $300,000 in four years' time.

43-year-old Laura Burleson - also known as Laura Logan or Laura Veach - could face up to 40 years in prison and $40,000 in fines for one of the largest aggregate thefts in Fremont County memory: separate theft charges totaling $363,769 together.

The embezzlements with which she is charged are reported to have started in November of 2014, with the last one dating to February 2018.

In May of 2020, M&M Well Service owner John Majdic reached out to the Fremont County Sheriff's Office regarding several thousand dollars of money missing from his business.

FSO detectives Eric Granlund and Anthony Armstrong met Majdic at the Riverton office of his accountant, Jay Reddon.

Majdic said he first became aware of a problem when employees started complaining their W-2s were inaccurate, "specifically," wrote Granlund in court documents, "the forms were reflecting income the employees had not received."

Reddon helped Majdic delve a little deeper and the pair learned a "significant amount of cash monies earmarked for 'subsistence pay' - or crew per diem pay - were withdrawn and missing from Jan 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018," Granlund wrote.

A forensic accounting report unearthed $71,000 withdraw from 'subsistence pay' accounts, signed for by Burleson, but not distributed to employees.

Burleson appeared in court Aug. 26, and was assigned a $75,000 cash-only bond.


G&F to discuss trapping reforms

PINEDALE (WNE) — Wyoming Game and Fish is ready to sit at the table and talk about trapping reforms after fast-tracking an internal work group to gather stakeholders’ proposals, draft legislation and everyday experiences. 

The fast-track is the result of several intensive weeks of collaboration and conversations after its July meeting when the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission requested an internal working group to poll the public, dog owners, veterinarians, outfitters, trappers, land agencies and others statewide. 

Lander Region’s Jason Hunter led the internal working group. Out of that came several common themes the state wildlife agency is ready to recommend that the commission and Wyoming Legislature consider mandatory trapping education, public awareness of trapping on public lands, shorter check periods for snares, reporting non-target species and setbacks from trails and developments. 

“This is a groundbreaking piece of history,” said Lisa Robertson of the nonprofit Wyoming Untrapped. “I am excited. I’m hoping it’s a new reality in Wyoming – we have to take care of our wildlife resources the best way we can.” 

The group sent a petition to Wyoming Game and Fish in January asking the agency to consider trapping reforms in 2020 instead of waiting until its scheduled review in 2022. The nonprofit is not trying to ban all trapping, she said. 

Wyoming Untrapped started a Facebook page in 2012 after several dogs were injured in unmarked traps near Jackson Hole’s very popular hiking and ski trails. 


Returned Jackson fugitive to represent self

JACKSON (WNE) — About a month after being arrested in California on a Teton County warrant, Casey Hardison is back in Jackson and ready to represent himself on five pending felony charges.

Hardison, an infamous DIY chemist and longtime advocate of psychedelic drugs, was extradited back to Jackson to face charges that stem from a botched 2018 drug bust with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations that led to a high-speed chase through Jackson.

After being booked into the Teton County Jail last week, Hardison appeared Thursday afternoon in Teton County Circuit Court, where he told Judge James Radda he intends to represent himself.

“I am well versed in my rights,” Hardison said.

Hardison also made an oral motion for discovery, including camera footage from his 2018 interaction with DCI, dispatch logs, forensic reports of the chain of custody of the marijuana from the exchange, and lists of witnesses the prosecutor intends to use.

Hardison was wanted on a $500,000 arrest warrant in Teton County on charges of delivery of marijuana and aggravated assault and battery from that drug bust. DCI agents said Hardison tried to run them over.

Hardison said he thought he was being robbed. According to court documents, agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations tried to arrest Hardison in an undercover drug sting. But the raid left Hardison with $6,000 of government cash and the cops with 2 pounds of marijuana.


Cody allows West’s temporary storage to stay up

CODY (WNE) — After about six months of use, a temporary storage tent owned by rapper-designer Kanye West has received the city’s OK to remain in place on highly visible commercial property for another year.

The structure does not meet the City of Cody’s long-term expectations for commercial property within the city’s entry corridor overlay zone – such as a brick and mortar building with architectural features compatible to surrounding businesses and 5%, three-dimensional landscaping.

But city officials are fine with the temporary situation for now as long as Psalm Cody Commercial, one of several Wyoming limited liability companies founded by West, continues to permanently develop its properties on Cody’s east side.

Last fall West bought the former 3.76-acre Mountain Equipment lot with a two-suite office and shop at 3202 Big Horn across from Fremont Motors.

Psalm Cody Commercial owns five other mostly vacant lots on the south side of Big Horn Avenue generally located between Sherwin Williams and T-O Engineers. Two of the properties have frontage along Big Horn while the other three are farther to the south off side streets. The Eleutian Technology building owned by Forward Cody borders the southernmost lots.


Spider leads to Gillette crash

GILLETTE (WNE) — Arachnophobia can be expensive.

Just ask the 57-year-old woman who crashed her 2005 Toyota Tacoma into a 2006 Coachmen Camper on Thursday afternoon in the 1000 block of Buckskin Drive.

She wasn't hurt, but the camper and her Tacoma had more than $1,000 damage, according to Gillette Police. 

The reason for the crash?

She was spooked by a spider that landed on her while she was driving. While distracted, she crashed into the camper, said Lt. Brent Wasson.

Police contacted the 55-year-old man who owned the camper and the driver was ticketed for improper lookout, Wasson said.

It is unclear if the spider survived.