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NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, April 22, 2019

Prosecutors seek Powell treatment center facilities

POWELL (WNE) — Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to turn a Powell drug treatment center’s facilities over to the state for implication in insurance fraud, according to court documents. 

The facility — Northwest Wyoming Treatment Center — was founded by a Powell psychologist, Gibson Condie, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to health care fraud. The same year, a federal judge sentenced him to three years in prison. 

A spokesman for the Wyoming branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office said by phone Friday morning he was unsure if the civil action was related to the criminal case against Condie. He said he would confer with the prosecutor working the civil case but had not provided an answer by mid-afternoon Friday. 

The forfeiture action, filed March 27, states that prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of two bank accounts, four physical properties, a utility trailer and an all-terrain vehicle. The properties and vehicles are registered to the treatment center, prosecutors say. The two bank accounts are registered in the name of the treatment center along with the director and president, respectively, of the center. 

The civil action also names the Big Horn Federal Savings Bank, which prosecutors say may hold a lien on a property. A Friday call to the bank’s attorney was not immediately returned. 

In 2016, about a year before prosecutors indicted Condie on more than 200 counts of health care fraud, the treatment center filed paperwork with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office removing Condie as its registered agent. Registered agents are not necessarily people in positions of authority. Wyoming law requires they keep certain information about the company’s structure and be available for service of legal documents. 




Judge rules VA attack case can move forward to grand jury

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The case of a former employee accused of walking into the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center with a baseball bat and attacking a staff member earlier this month will go forward to a federal grand jury.

During a preliminary hearing Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin determined that enough probable cause was presented to continue legal proceedings against Benjamin Delany, 23, of Cheyenne.

Delany faces a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Sgt. Thomas Conrad of the VA Police Department, the sole witness during the hearing, testified that the attack took place around 11:45 a.m. April 11 at the hospital’s community center, which serves 100-percent disabled veterans.

Upon hearing an alarm, Conrad said he pulled up video of an individual, later identified as Delany, carrying a red, white and blue bat in the cafeteria of the community center.

When he arrived at the location, Conrad said he saw Delany actively resisting while the department’s deputy chief and other employees tried to subdue him.

Delany continued to resist as he was placed in handcuffs behind his back, Conrad said. Delany was taken to the facility’s emergency room after the incident, he said.

Conrad said Delany appeared intoxicated and consistently used foul language. He said he could smell alcohol on Delany’s breath. Conrad also said Delany’s speech was slurred.

Delany was seen walking around and talking to employees just before swinging a bat and striking employee Bobby Hamm in the lower left side of his body, he said.

If convicted, Delany could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, three years supervised release and a $100 special assessment.


Man found dead in Riverton died of hypothermia

RIVERTON (WNE) — The man whose body was found last month on a bike path in Riverton died of hypothermia and acute ethanol intoxication, according to autopsy reports. 

Horace J. Big Medicine Jr., 62, was found at about 2:35 p.m. March 11 in the 200 block of North Broadway. 

The initial call to police was regarding a subject lying on the bike path wearing a t-shirt, jeans and one shoe. 

About five minutes later a Riverton Police Department officer who responded to the scene indicated the man was deceased, according to initial reports.

Toxicology tests showed Big Medicine had a blood-alcohol content of .229 at the time of his death, and Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said that rate of intoxication is high enough to be labeled “acute ethanol intoxication.” 

Stratmoen did acknowledge that “we have people with higher levels walking around,” but, he said, “That doesn’t mean it’s not acute.” 

The level wasn’t high enough to indicate Big Medicine wanted to kill himself by overdosing on alcohol in the cold, however: Reports indicate Big Medicine’s death was an accident, and Stratmoen said there was no evidence that Big Medicine had any intent to commit suicide. 

“People are intoxicated all the time,” Stratmoen said. “If you’re intoxicated in a cold environment, then the nature of hypothermia and the alcohol intoxication is that you will not realize that you’re physically in trouble. “So you feel like, ‘I’m just going to lay down here for a minute.’” 




Rock Springs backs management plan for Greater Little Mountain

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — The city of Rock Springs drafted a letter to the Bureau of Land Management supporting Greater Little Mountain Coalition’s proposals on a revised BLM Rock Springs resource management plan. The coalition seeks to protect the area around Greater Little Mountain that touches the Wyoming, Colorado and Utah borders to the south, Sage Creek in the north, the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to the west and Wyoming Highway 430 to the east.

The city requests that the revised plan includes the coalition’s suggested alternatives concerning future oil and gas development in the vicinity. For example, part of the group’s proposal requests parts of 

the Red Creek area be left alone.

The projected publication date for the RMP draft is in the third quarter of 2019, according to the BLM’s March 2019 National Environmental Policy Act Hotsheet.

The city letter lists three reasons to support the Greater Little Mountain Coalition’s proposals:

The organization advocates for an area that offers a variety of opportunities for residents.

“Hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities depend on abundant, healthy populations of elk, mule deer, antelope, moose, trout and numerous other species that need intact ecosystems to thrive and 

reproduce,” the letter states. “With the right safeguards, the GLMA can continue to nourish a sustainable outdoor economy with diverse recreation opportunities. Recreation creates jobs, fills freezers, pays 

salaries, and directly benefits the economic growth of Wyoming while protecting the activities that make living in Wyoming so desirable.”

The group’s proposal offers something for multiple sides.

“The coalition’s approach and proposal provides a balance between the biological needs of fish and wildlife and the economic realities of developing oil and gas in Sweetwater County,” according to the letter. 

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