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Wyoming News Briefs Jan. 22, 2020

Man pleads guilty to stealing from Scouts, elderly woman

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man has pleaded guilty to taking more than $30,000 from the Boy Scouts while he was a scoutmaster and more than $120,000 from an elderly woman for whom he had worked and befriended.

Sentencing for Jason Ray Barnum, 42, will be March 5 on three counts of theft for taking $31,025 from the Boy Scouts and one count of obtaining goods by false pretenses for taking $122,573 from an elderly woman who had hired him to do repair work at her house.

Prosecutors will recommend an imposed three- to five-year prison sentence on each of the theft counts, to be served concurrently, and a suspended five- to 10-year sentence for the fraud and then 10 years of supervised probation.

As part of a plea agreement, he must pay $10,000 before sentencing to the woman, and he remains out on bond so that he can work to earn money to pay that restitution, according to court documents.

Barnum took money from fundraising activities and donations to the Scouts, spending some of it on trips to chase a woman in Iowa who he would later marry, according to court documents.

During the Gillette Police Department’s investigation of the alleged thefts, investigators discovered Barnum also had conned a 76-year-old Gillette woman out of $122,573 between July 2017 and May 2018.


Man indicted on money laundering, marijuana charges

JACKSON (WNE) — A grand jury has indicted Teton County man Bryan Jones and three co-defendants for conspiracy to distribute and manufacture a metric ton of marijuana and conspiracy to launder money.

The indictment stems from Jones’ Dec. 10 arrest after a five-year investigation into what federal officials called a large drug trafficking organization.

“From January 2010, through and including December 6, 2019, in the District of Wyoming and elsewhere, the defendants Bryan Callier Jones, Jeffrey Allen Fillers, Todd Dennis Harris and Gavin James Watt, did knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree together and with other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury to distribute and manufacture 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana, a schedule I controlled substance.”

The indictment was filed Jan. 15 in the United States District Court of Wyoming and calls for the defendants to forfeit property if convicted.

“On Oct. 31, 2016, an investigation was initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration into the Jones Drug Trafficking Organization,” federal court documents state. “Information received from law enforcement sources in Jackson, Wyoming, indicated that Jones was trafficking large quantities of marijuana in the Jackson, Wyoming, area.”

Investigators had been surveilling Jones’ South Park house and tracking flight records and bank accounts.

Jones is out on bond, ordered to have no contact with his co-defendants or any witnesses. He’s also required to stay inside his Teton County home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.


Traffic stop nets 5 pounds of meth

DOUGLAS (WNE) — A Montana man was charged Dec. 31 with possession of meth and possession of meth with intent to deliver, both felonies, after a traffic stop on I-25.

Kristopher Pease, 33, of Crow Agency, Montana, was traveling northbound on I-25 near Douglas when a Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper stopped the vehicle he was driving for speeding.

Pease could not produce a driver’s license or registration and told the trooper that the vehicle was not his, according to court documents.

The trooper learned that Pease’s license was suspended and that there was an active warrant out of Colorado, according to the affidavit.

The trooper requested a K9 unit from the Converse County Sheriff’s Office, and the K9 alerted indicating drugs. The trooper found a plastic bag with suspected meth in the trunk of the vehicle. Marijuana and more meth was found throughout the vehicle, according to the affidavit.

After further investigation, Pease told law enforcement that he was traveling back to Montana from Colorado after visiting his girlfriend and picking up a large quantity of meth.

He allegedly admitted that he put the majority of the meth in the trunk and kept a small amount of personal use in the passenger compartment, according to court documents.

Approximately 4.9 pounds of meth and 4 grams of marijuana were found, according to the affidavit.


Felony charges refiled in 2018 hoe attack

TORRINGTON (WNE) – Felony charges have been refiled against a man who allegedly broke into a Goshen County couple’s home and attacked one of the residents with a garden hoe before the occupants of the house forced his retreat by beating him with an antique hammer.

Mack Downey is charged with a count of aggravated burglary, aggravated battery and unlawful entry into an occupied structure. If he is found guilty, he faces a maximum 35 years in prison.

His issues started in early October 2018 when he allegedly entered an occupied structure “with intent to commit theft or a felony therein and knowingly or recklessly inflicted bodily injury on anyone,” according to charging documents filed in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court by Deputy Goshen County Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg.

Court documents show that Downey’s original charges were dismissed so he could answer to a criminal warrant from Colorado.

According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by Goshen County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Wes Deen, deputies responded to a call of a home invasion.

“Deputies were advised the reporting party and his wife had fought off the person who had broken into their home,” Deen wrote. “They were also advised the home invader had been hit in the head with a hammer in an attempt to defend themselves from the attack.”

Deen wrote that the evidence at hand suggested the Downey had likely intended to murder his victim.

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