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APRIL 16 News Briefs

Kidnapping suspect faces 3 felony charges in Cheyenne

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The man accused of kidnapping a 1-year-old child and assaulting the child’s pregnant mother Thursday is facing several felony charges in Cheyenne, along with new charges from his arrest in Colorado.

Mijito Johnson, 26, was charged Friday with two felony counts of aggravated assault against a pregnant woman and a charge of interference with custody of a child.

Johnson currently is in custody in Aurora, Colorado, where he also faces misdemeanor charges of interference with an officer and related to his arrest.

According to the charges, Johnson allegedly struck his pregnant girlfriend multiple times before taking the infant from her arms and fleeing to his brother’s house in Colorado.

An Amber Alert was issued in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, prompting a multi-state search for the abducted child.

Johnson was arrested by the Aurora Police Department late Thursday night. Officers found his vehicle abandoned in a parking lot and located him a short distance away at his brother’s residence.

He currently is in custody in Aurora on a no-hold bond, and is scheduled for his first court date May 9.


Fremont County has highest rate of food stamp use

RIVERTON (WNE) — Fremont County has the largest percentage of residents receiving food stamp benefits, also called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, among the 23 counties in the state.

The statistics are included in the new 2018 Wyoming County Profiles economy report by chief Wyoming economist Wenlin Liu.

The report shows that 8.9 percent of Fremont County’s estimated 39,803 residents receive foodstamp benefits, compared with 5.8 percent of 579,315 residents statewide.

Crook County, which includes the towns of Hulett and Sundance, had the lowest statistic in this area, with 1.6 percent of its 7,410 residents receiving foodstamp benefits from the federal program.

Statewide 13,463 Wyoming residents receive SNAP benefits, and 1,349 of those live in Fremont County. Fremont accounts for 10 percent of the portion of the population that receives food-stamp benefits.

Fremont County also is calculated to have a higher poverty rate than the rest of the state, with 5,380 individuals living below the official poverty level income — 13.7 percent of the population of the county.

Altogether, Liu’s report says the Wyoming has 63,398 individuals living below the poverty line, or 11.1 percent.

Although Fremont County has a higher poverty rate per population than the state total, the ratios between those receiving benefits and those below the poverty line are not symmetrical. The number of SNAP beneficiaries within the county comes to 64.9 percent of the population classified as impoverished.

Statewide, the sum of SNAP beneficiaries comes to 52.25 percent of the number of those living in poverty.


Alleged conspirator charged in meth ring

POWELL (WNE) — After putting the leaders of a large drug distribution ring behind bars, authorities are beginning to prosecute those alleged to have played smaller roles in the organization.

The Park County Attorney’s Office recently filed a pair of felony charges against a 31-year-old Cody woman, Erin J. Clark. Agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation say Clark distributed relatively large quantities of methamphetamine between January and July 2017, working with local ring leader William “Bill” Lee, also of Cody.

The charges specifically allege that, on a near-daily basis, Lee delivered a 3.5-gram “eight-ball” of meth to Clark at LaVina’s bar and liquor store in Powell, where she worked at the time. After accepting the drugs through the establishment’s drive-through window, Clark would sell them and pay Lee $280, charging documents allege, amounting to about half of the proceeds.

The case is based on statements that DCI agents gathered between the fall of 2017 and the summer of 2018 from confidential sources, Lee and Clark herself.

Clark was arrested in late March and charged with counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of meth with intent to deliver. She pleaded not guilty in Park County District Court last week, with a trial tentatively set for June.

Clark’s case stemmed from DCI’s multi-year investigation into a drug trafficking organization that was moving meth across Park, Big Horn and Natrona counties. During their work — which started in November 2016 — DCI agents came to believe that Lee was the area’s largest meth dealer.


Sublette County takes over grant for Hoback Ranches

PINEDALE (WNE) — Citing new information, an extended deadline and a desire to help Hoback Ranches residents, Sublette County Commissioners called a special meeting Friday, April 19, and voted to take over and manage a grant.

The $562,000 grant, if received, will pay for the costs of installing culverts and other infrastructure needed to mitigate potential flooding and landslides following last September’s Roosevelt Fire. As part of the grant, the county will be responsible for $144,000 or 25 percent of the funds. Commission Chairman David Burnett and commissioners Doug Vickrey, Tom Noble, Joel Bousman and Mack Rawhouser were all in attendance at the special meeting.

Absent from the April 2 meeting, representatives from Hoback Ranches as well as Sen. Dan Dockstader and Reps. Jim Roscoe and Albert Sommers attended the special April 12 meeting.

The special meeting was called after commissioners refused to sign “assurances” demanded by the federal Homeland Security agency during their regular April 2 meeting. At that point, it appeared the grant would fall through.

The Hoback Ranches Special Improvement District was not eligible to apply for the grant because the entity has not signed on to the Sublette County Hazardous Mitigation Plan that was approved by the county and all three municipalities about a year ago.

When commissioners discussed taking over the grant application and management, they questioned why the district had not signed on to the Hazardous Mitigation Plan when it was offered.

Hoback Ranches representative Dave Nemetz said perhaps it was due to the revolving nature of the district’s board, but members did not remember being offered the plan.

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