NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020

Cheyenne travel agent sentenced to prison for stealing thousands

CHEYENNE (WNE) – A former local travel agent who stole thousands of dollars from people through his business was sentenced Monday morning in Laramie County District Court.

Brian Box received a variety of concurrent sentences across his numerous case files, but will ultimately serve two to four years in prison and 20 years of probation upon release, which slightly deviated from the plea agreement. He was also ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution to numerous victims.

Box pleaded guilty last fall to 28 counts of felony theft, seven counts of misdemeanor theft, seven counts of fraud by check and two counts of use of another’s credit card. His guilty pleas were part of a plea agreement between him and the state in which he agreed to served up to three years in prison.

Box was the chief operator of the hunting-focused travel agency in Frontier Mall known as both Top Travel and The Outdoor Pursuit. In late 2018 and early 2019, Box allegedly stole $125,000 from 34 people through his business, which is no longer operating.

At Monday's hearing, defense attorney Joanne Zook said Box’s business started struggling once his business partner retired. He got behind on payments to a company he hired to “make his business beautiful” and used the money he stole to try to save his failing business.

Police found out about the fraud when several customers reported they had paid for their trips through the company, and the trips had been cancelled without their knowledge or a refund. Investigators determined Box was allegedly keeping the trip deposits customers made for himself after he cancelled the trips without their knowledge. He was also accused of keeping the refunds from the trips.


Gillette police confiscate 8 ounces of meth

GILLETTE (WNE) — Three people are being held in Campbell County jail on drug charges involving 8 ounces of meth found in a hotel room — a “substantial” amount, according to Gillette police.

Three of those arrested — Allen David Jenerou, 34, Chelsie Gray Grass, 32, and Josie Jean Williams, 31 — are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver meth, and possession with intent to deliver meth. Each charge has a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

In addition, Jenerou faces a charge of being a habitual criminal, which has a penalty of 10 to 50 years, because of an aggravated assault and battery charge against him for allegedly stomping a woman’s head into the ground.

It was that domestic violence that precipitated the drug arrest, according to affidavits filed in the cases.

About six hours after the assault, police pulled over a 2008 BMW he was a passenger in and arrested him. Small amounts of marijuana, crystal meth and liquid meth were found in the car.

Police learned that Jenerou was staying at a local hotel and Gray Grass and Williams were staying with him.

After a drug dog indicated drugs were in the room registered to Jenerou, police got a search warrant and found 8 ounces of crystal meth in a black cardboard box hidden underneath the bed frame of one of the beds in the room.

Jenerou has been charged with felony possession of meth and a misdemeanor count of domestic battery.  He has been convicted of felony charges before in Campbell County, including an aggravated assault in 2011 in which he was accused of choking a woman who was 10 weeks pregnant after they argued because he had driven her car while he was drunk. 


Riverton votes to change name of Riverton Regional Airport

RIVERTON (WNE) — Fremont County’s commercial airport has a new name. 

The Riverton City Council adopted a resolution unanimously Tuesday changing the facility’s name from Riverton Regional Airport to Central Wyoming Regional Airport. 

The move came at the recommendation of the Riverton Airport Board, which has considered a name change for the facility several times in the past decade, most recently in 2017. 

At that time, Airport Board chair Dean Peranteaux said he was opposed to the idea because the City of Riverton was funding the airport without support from other community stakeholders. 

But since then, Lander and Fremont County have begun contributing regularly to the local air service fund, so “it makes sense” now to “get rid of that Riverton name (and) make it a little more regional.” 

Riverton public works director Kyle Butterfield said the renaming discussion arose this year after a presentation from a marketing firm associated with the Fremont Air Service Team.

 “(They) reported that a name change for Riverton Regional will help with search engine optimization and the regionalization of the airport,” Butterfield said Tuesday. 

Butterfield said a report from the FAST marketing firm shows the phrase “Wyoming airports” is entered 8,100 per month on internet search engines. 

“That term (is) searched very heavily, and we’d like to tie into that as an airport,” Butterfield said Tuesday. 


Health Department: Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

JACKSON (WNE) — With smoke settling in the Tetons from wildfires burning around the West, the Teton County Health Department is reminding Jackson residents to be mindful of the potential health effects caused by wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke can irritate eyes, aggravate respiratory problems and worsen the symptoms of heart or lung disease, the Health Department warned in a news release.

“Everyone should avoid heavy outdoor exercise when our local air is smoky," Dr. Travis Riddell, Teton District Health Officer, said in the release. "Those at-risk should be especially careful in limiting their smoke exposure.”

The Health Department describes at-risk individuals as people who have pre-existing heart and respiratory conditions, including allergies, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Older adults are more likely to be affected because they are more likely to have heart or lung disease, and children are vulnerable because their airways are still developing and because they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.

Since avoiding the smoke can mean staying indoors, the Health Department recommends keeping indoor area as clean as possible. 

Here are a few tips:

Try to keep windows and doors closed.

Keep the fresh-air intake closed and filter clean if you run an air conditioner.

Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.

When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces or gas stoves.

Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home.

Do not smoke, because it increases a person’s total exposure to particulate matter in the air.