NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, June 22, 2020

Dems ask Senate candidate to withdraw

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Following a series of anti-Semitic and ableist tweets from U.S. Senate candidate James DeBrine, leadership from the Wyoming Democratic Party has called on him to withdraw from the race leading up to the Aug. 18 primary.

DeBrine's tweets that forced the party response were largely attacks on some of the other Democratic candidates seeking the nomination. In tweets sent earlier this week, DeBrine labeled Merav Ben-David, a University of Wyoming professor and native of Israel who is running for the federal seat, as "FAKE Jewish," and made insensitive comments to candidate Yana Ludwig about her having Lyme disease.

Party Chair Joe Barbuto, in a statement sent Thursday night, called the comments "unacceptable and completely out of line with the values and principles of the Wyoming Democratic Party."

"As a result, this organization will not be providing any resources or support to James DeBrines' campaign, and I personally call on him to withdraw his candidacy for the nomination," Barbuto said in the statement.

DeBrine, when reached by the Tribune Eagle on Friday, said he doesn't plan to drop out of the race, despite the loss of party support.

DeBrine said "there's no way" he would be anti-Semitic, noting his brother-in-law is Jewish. He did not explicitly apologize for the tweets, though when asked if he wished he hadn't posted them, DeBrine admitted he "probably should have been more gracious."

WDP spokeswoman Nina Hebert said the party's decision to drop its support was made swiftly Thursday night after the tweets were brought to party officials' attention by a voter.


CWC layoffs inevitable, president says

RIVERTON (WNE) — Central Wyoming College president Brad Tyndall received the authority Wednesday to initiate staff layoffs if "significant" funding cuts are implemented this year at the state level.

Tyndall said he believed the staff "reduction in force" will be inevitable.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has asked government agencies throughout the state to prepare budget proposals showing 10% to 20% reductions in state funding.

"He has not pulled the trigger, but he said, 'I want to see what your 10% and 20% cut is,'" Tyndall told the CWC Board of Trustees during their regular meeting Wednesday.

Given that the bulk of CWC's expenses - 78% - is allocated to personnel, Tyndall continued, there is "no way" such cuts could be made without layoffs.

The college employs about 250 people.

And, he added, the governor could ask state agencies to implement the funding reductions at any point.

"It could be next week," Tyndall said.

He referred to college policy documents that state he must receive board approval before initiating reductions in force - an action that may be necessary in order to comply with another policy that states he must present the board with a fiscal year budget that does not allow expenses to exceed available resources.

Under board policy, the specific personnel reductions would be determined by Tyndall himself, not the trustees.


Woman who stole tax money will pay restitution

GILLETTE (WNE) — The woman who admitted stealing $39,585 in tax money while working at the Campbell County Treasurer’s Office will be asked to pay restitution of $2,500.

Marcella R. Hall, 34, has pleaded guilty to felony theft. The $2,500 figure was arrived at because the county’s insurance company paid all costs of the thefts, minus the $2,500 deductible, according to County Attorney Ronald Wirthwein.

Under a plea agreement, Hall would serve no prison time with the recommendation that a three- to five-year sentence be suspended in favor of three years of supervised probation.

Wirthwein noted that her level of cooperation in the investigation was “extremely high” and the felony conviction is enough of a punishment. Wirthwein said she didn’t need jail time “and certainly not prison time.”

Investigators told him that “it was their perception that she was actually relieved that is was sort of over,” Wirthwein said.

Hall said she was going through a really hard time both personally and financially when she stole money the first time. She paid that money back.

But she stole money again, “and I just continued to do so,” she said.


Rawlins man charged for social media threats

RAWLINS (WNE) — A Rawlins man could face more than a decade in prison for threatening local police officers on social media. 

Charles Leroy McMacken, 37, is charged with influencing, intimidating or impeding officers, a felon, driving under suspension, a misdemeanor, and interference with a peace officer.

McMacken pleaded not guilty to all three counts on Friday in Carbon County District Court.

According to an arrest affidavit: 

At 12:09 p.m. on March 8, Rawlins Police Officer George Phillips performed a traffic stop at Pacific and Larsen streets. McMacken was driving the vehicle. It was discovered his license was suspended, so he was issued a citation for the violation and then released. 

About 90 minutes later, Phillips observed McMacken walking on the sidewalk. It appeared to the officer that the man was throwing objects at a vehicle. When Phillips went to stop McMacken, the man began yelling at the officer, threatening to “beat his [expletive]” and that he was going to kill the officer. McMacken took off running. Phillips was unable to catch him. 

Later that evening, an anonymous caller reported to RPD dispatch that McMacken was making “alarming” comments about the department on his Facebook page. Some of the comments included “You piece of [expletive] cop I’m going to kill u and your family pull me over for pointing to the sky then chase me around like a rabbit I won’t your teeth [expletive] if you want to stay in rawlins right now if I ever see you again you’ll be lucky u [expletive].”