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Wyoming News Briefs JULY 10

Taiwan president’s visit falls through


July 4, 2019

Taiwan president’s visit falls through

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, will not visit Wyoming during her upcoming visit to the United States and the Caribbean.

Gov. Mark Gordon's office had been communicating with Tsai's office about a possible visit during Cheyenne Frontier Days this month, but those plans appear to have fallen through.

The announcement came Tuesday morning in a statement released jointly by Gordon's office and the Taiwanese delegation.

"Both sides have discussed the possibility of President Tsai's transit to Wyoming recently, and Gov. Gordon also welcomed the possibility," the statement read. "But, as there will be a significant number of people attending Cheyenne Frontier Days in July, this transit will not occur due to heavy logistics concerns. A future visit remains a possibility."

The statement goes on to say that Gordon has been invited to visit Taiwan in the second half of this year to further the relationship and pursue opportunities around beef, blockchain and clean- power technologies.

Michael Pearlman, a spokesman with Gordon's office, said the decision was made in Taipei, and he was unaware of specific logistical concerns prompting the decision.

Pearlman said the governor was "hopeful that the visit could happen, but was realistic about the challenges."

Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr also released a statement Tuesday morning, saying she was looking forward to welcoming Tsai to Cheyenne in the future.

"In the meantime, I've been invited to a dinner with the President of Taiwan this month in Colorado, and look forward to seeing her and strengthening the ties between Cheyenne and our sister city of Tai-Chung," she said.


Men ordered to repay $100,000 in ‘skimming’ case

CASPER (WNE) — A federal judge on Monday ordered two men to repay $100,000 and serve 20 months each in prison for operating an ATM fraud conspiracy in Wyoming.

The two men — Vasile F. Grutoiu and Ionut Manea — also agreed to turn over a device that can be used to read and write credit card information on the cards’ characteristic strips. Although the two men were residents of Los Angeles at the time of their arrest, they are not American citizens and will likely be deported after they serve their sentences.

Casper police arrested the two men in December at an east Casper hotel and drafted court documents alleging the men stole more than $60,000 from Wyoming ATMs, including $35,000 in Natrona County. In federal court documents filed 11 days after the arrests, prosecutors accused the two men of stealing about $20,000 from a Casper ATM.

Although investigators initially thought Grutoiu was named Michael Voss, matching a Danish passport in the hotel room, a homeland security investigator later determined his identity with fingerprint matching. Court documents state Grutoiu was wanted on an Interpol warrant at the time of his arrest, but neither his name nor his aliases are listed in a publicly available list of people wanted in one of the agency’s member countries.

Grutoiu and Manea used the small device to put stolen account information on credit cards, then used the counterfeit cards to withdraw money from Wyoming ATMs.

Publicly available documents do not specify all of the banks to which Grutoiu and Manea will pay their total of $101,823 restitution, but among them is a Laramie credit union.


Man pleads guilty in 2018 stabbing

LARAMIE (WNE) — A man who stabbed a Laramie man last summer can expect to spend 12-15 years in prison, at least according to the terms of a plea agreement made Tuesday in Albany County District Court.

Jake Gillen pleaded guilty to two felony assault charges. In turn, prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge against him.

Gillen was arrested as a 22-year-old last June by the Cheyenne Police Department after the stabbing of Terrence Gadlin.

Gadlin called the Laramie Police Department from the Ivinson Memorial Hospital parking lot after being stabbed multiple times. When Gadlin was found, he had multiple lacerations and puncture wounds, including on his chest, neck and head. Responders stabilized him and arranged for transport to a Colorado hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries. Doctors performed open-heart surgery because of injuries to Gadlin’s left ventricle.

A tip shared with LPD’s Facebook page led police to arrest Gillen at a Motel 6 in Cheyenne.

A source, Gillen’s cousin, told police Gillen came to her Cheyenne residence after the stabbing.

She told police Gillen and Laramie resident Tessa Bean said a “big guy” in Laramie had “attacked” Bean and a fight ensued between Gillen and Gadlin. Gillen told the source he thought he’d killed the “big guy.”

Gillen was charged with second-degree attempted murder.

At the time, 20-year-old Tessa Bean, was also arrested and charged with accessory after the fact. The charge against Bean was later dropped.


Hearing officer rejects former prosecutor’s wage claim

JACKSON (WNE) — Hearing officer Deborah Baumer dismissed Steve Weichman’s claim for wages after deciding that the Wyoming Department of Workforce Service lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

In the “order granting Teton County’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction” filed Friday, Baumer states that, like a court, an administrative agency is required to have subject matter jurisdiction before it can hear a case.

Per Wyoming law, the Department of Workforce Services must take claims for unpaid wages but Baumer said those rules don’t apply to Weichman because he did not quit his job as Teton County prosecutor and was not fired.

“Weichman was an elected official whose term ended pursuant to Wyoming statute and he simply served out his term,” the order states. “He neither quit nor was discharged.”

Weichman filed a claim for wages with the state because he said he worked until Jan. 7 but his payments from Teton County stopped Dec. 31.

Weichman, who served for 29 years in the county attorney’s office, said Teton County owes him $1,643.84.

Weichman argued that his decision not to seek reelection is the same as quitting.

But Baumer said that argument “is simply not persuasive.”


Company seeks permit for third phase of wind farm

DOUGLAS (WNE) — NextEra Energy Resources’ Cedar Springs Wind – already prepping to break ground this summer on phases one and two of its giant $450 million wind energy project – has filed for a permit to begin phase three far ahead of previously disclosed schedules.

NextEra’s 120 turbine, 400 megawatt Cedar Springs one and two will take two years to build and will require 265 workers at peak in the summer of 2020. Construction on phase three is expected to start sometime after October and to be completed by the end of 2020 as well. The permit application states the company is expected to employ an additional 154 workers by next July, bringing the total peak to 424 workers here next summer.

According to the request for permit filed June 24, Cedar Springs Wind III, LLC filed an application to construct and operate the third phase of the Cedar Springs Wind Energy Project located about 17 miles northeast of Glenrock and 8 miles north of Douglas in Converse County. The main entrance is located off of WYO 59.

It is estimated that the facility will produce another 120 megawatts of energy and “will include up to 48 turbines on approximately 20,518 acres of private land in Converse County,” according to Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Siting Council (ISC) Administrator Brian Lovett.

The ISC will conduct a contested case hearing on the permit application for the project at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Converse County Library.

Public comments concerning potential social, economic or environmental impacts that may result from the proposed project are due by July 24.


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