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Wyoming News Briefs JULY 15

Cheyenne refinery sued by AG

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office is suing HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining LLC for a second time in the past two years for environmental violations.

The court case, filed July 2 in Laramie County District Court on behalf of the people of Wyoming, alleges the company is violating the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act, the Wyoming Air Quality Standards and Regulations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.

The first lawsuit, filed in February 2018, alleged similar violations and is still active.

HollyFrontier is a petroleum refining company that produces products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, specialty lubricant products and more, according to its website. The Delaware-based company also has a principal office in Texas and is licensed to operate in Wyoming. It operates a refinery in south Cheyenne.

According to court documents:

The company violated environmental regulations by exceeding the permitted sulfer dioxide emission limits. Sulfer dioxide is an environmental pollutant that, when inhaled, can cause harmful respiratory effects such as broncho-constriction and increase asthma symptoms.

The pollutant can also cause increased hospital visits, especially for the elderly or young children.

The company also exceeded limits for carbon monoxide pollution, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants – all of which can have negative health effects.

A total of 17 environmental violation claims are included in the lawsuit. The suit is asking for up to $10,000 in civil penalties for each day the company violated environmental regulations. It’s unclear from the lawsuit how many days the state alleges HollyFrontier to be in violation.


Safeway sues Laramie property owner

LARAMIE (WNE) — Safeway filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against WY Plaza, which owns the grocery store’s building in Laramie, for refusing to repay Safeway $1.1 million that had been handed over in rent payments since 2006.

WY Plaza is owned by Utah-based real estate company Woodbury Corporation.

The Idaho-based grocery store claims WY Plaza is in violation of a 1980 lease agreement, which states that “if lessee constructs (an) addition, lessee may deduct from percentage rent … an amount equal to said percentage rent until such time as the balance in the amortization account, hereafter created, equals zero.”

Safeway completed a 7,550 square foot expansion of its store in 2001 that cost $2.6 million.

In the 13 years preceding 2019, Safeway made $1.1 million in rent payments without deducting any portion of amortization account from the 2001 expansion, according to the Idaho-based grocer’s complaint.

“On November 7, 2018, Safeway notified defendant that Safeway had inadvertently not deducted any portion of the amortization account against its percentage rent obligation and, as a result, Safeway had overpaid percentage rent in the amount of $1.1 million,” the complaint states.

The grocery story requested WY Plaza reimburse the company.

In December, an agent of the WY Plaza told Safeway that the company was “refusing to pay Safeway for percentage rent overpayments of $1.1 million and that no percentage rent credits would be allowed ‘in the future.’”

Safeway is asking the federal court to award the company $1.1 million “plus prejudgment interest as allowed by law.”


Man charged after stabbing puppy

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man will be charged with felony animal cruelty after stabbing his son’s puppy with a knife last week.

A 19-year-old man said his 45-year-old father, Richard Pope, stabbed his 6-month-old German shepherd six times in the abdomen with a fixed-blade knife, said Police Lt. Brent Wasson.

The son said he was at the skate park when Pope called him, angry at the puppy because it had pooped on the floor, Wasson said. The son showed texts to officers from Pope threatening harm to the dog. When the son came home, his dog had been stabbed and his father was holding a bloody knife.

The son took the dog to Red Hills Veterinary Hospital where it was treated. The dog is doing fine, Wasson said.

Pope was arrested on active warrants Thursday after police saw him walking on West 4J Road and he will be charged with felony animal cruelty, Wasson said.


Man accused of stealing $65,000 from Mining Association

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A computer technician who is accused of stealing nearly $65,000 by forging checks from the Wyoming Mining Association in 2016 was recently transferred to Laramie County from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle to appear in district court.

Matthew Rose, 29, faces five counts of forgery and one count of theft. He is accused of stealing six checks from the Mining Association, forging signatures on five of them and ultimately depositing the money into his personal bank account.

According to court documents:

Rose was given after-hours access to the Mining Association office when the organization was preparing to move from 2601 Central Ave. to its current location at 1401 Airport Parkway #230. Rose was an employee for Geek Garage, which was subcontracted by Wyomingnetwork LLC to coordinate the transfer of telephone lines and computer equipment to the new office. He was given after-hours access from Aug. 1 to Aug. 5, 2016.

Around Oct. 27, 2016, two Mining Association employees, office manager Heidi Peterson and accountant Tammy Lantz, reported a theft by fraud to Cheyenne Police. Five checks were made out to Geek Garage that had not been authorized by the Mining Association, totaling $64,591.01.

Peterson had discovered the missing checks about two weeks earlier, around Oct. 11, 2016. The checks were kept in a box in a desk drawer that was not typically locked. Peterson immediately moved to stop payment on the checks, but Lantz found upon reconciliation that five of the checks had already cleared.

Each charge of forgery carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, as does the single theft charge.

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