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Wyoming News Briefs: December 4, 2019

Hanna marshal praised for ending hostage situation at Virginian

RAWLINS (WNE) — A Hanna marshal has been praised for his work using less than lethal force when taking a suspect into custody last week.

Marshal Jeff Neimark responded to a hostage situation on Nov. 26 at the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow after the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office received 11 emergency calls related to a man holding a gun in each hand and taking someone hostage.

According to a news release issued by the marshal:

Around 12:45 p.m. on Nov. 26, Neimark heard about the calls over his radio, including ones about a male suspect assaulting a woman and throwing chairs inside of the hotel. He was at his office at the time.

While en route to the hotel, Neimark received multiple updates from the sheriff’s office, including that the suspect had two guns (one in each hand), three magazines and was pointing one of the guns at the building.

When Neimark was about five minutes away from the scene, he learned that the suspect was pointing a gun at someone and taking a hostage.

Once he arrived at the hotel, Neimark located and encountered the suspect, deploying less than lethal munitions. He stated he deployed two drag-stabilized bean bag rounds, an OC-pepper round and a C.S. round, also known as tear gas.

The sheriff’s office then took the suspect into custody and EMTs came in to look at patrons and employees of the hotel who were injured during the incident.

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Former handyman shop faces charges

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A former handyman shop in Cheyenne is being sued by the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office for allegedly violating the Wyoming Consumer Protection Act, which cost numerous customers thousands of dollars.

Grandpa’s Shop LLC, owned by Luke Christensen, which operated from Sept. 12, 2012, to Nov. 9, 2018, is alleged to have “engaged in a pattern of unfair and deceptive trade practices against residents of Wyoming through transactions for contractor/handyman services for consumers’ homes,” according to the lawsuit filed Nov. 22 in Laramie County District Court.

The case accuses the shop of misrepresenting sponsorship or approval, misrepresenting standard or grade, misrepresenting warranty and unfair acts or practices.

The lawsuit seeks a maximum civil penalty of $10,000 imposed for each violation of the Wyoming Consumer Protection Act and $15,000 for each violation where a victim is over 60 years old. The suit is also asking for a total of $83,495 in damages for the money allegedly wrongfully taken from consumers.

According to court documents:

The shop advertised handyman services, general repair services, renovation services and more to Wyoming homeowners. Some of these services required licenses and permits from local entities, such as a general contracting license from the city of Cheyenne.

The city revoked the shop’s contracting license in July 2017 for both the shop and Christensen. Despite this action, the shop continued to advertise and sell contracting services to customers.

The shop also took money from individuals for contracting or other home services, and didn’t begin work on the homes as promised. The shop would also work on consumers’ homes without proper permitting.

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Prison sentence for man accused of inappropriate touching

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — A man accused of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old while at work will serve prison time.

Bradley A. Baugh, 23, appeared in the Third District County of Judge Richard Lavery at a sentencing hearing to one count of third-degree sexual assault and three counts of fourth-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

In exchange for Baugh’s guilty plea to third-degree sexual assault, the other three felony charges were dismissed. Baugh was given a five-to-nine year prison sentence with credit given for 229 days served at the Wyoming Department of Corrections.

According to court documents, on Oct. 27, 2018, a Green River Police officer responded to McDonalds to check on a possible sexual assault of a minor. After arriving at the restaurant, the officer spoke to a 17-year-old female and her mother about how the girl was inappropriately touched by Baugh.

The 17-year-old told the officer Baugh has been making inappropriate comments and telling her sexual jokes on the night of Oct. 26, 2018. As the night progressed, Baugh’s behavior progressed and he smacked her on the behind numerous times and tickled her.

Later on in the shift, the girl needed a break and asked if she could go up on the roof. While she was on the roof, Baugh came up to the roof and kissed her and touched her inappropriately.

The 17-year-old finished her shift at 1 a.m. and went out to start her car. Baugh followed her and once again made inappropriate contact with her.

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Jackson hospital braces for fight over property tax bill

JACKSON (WNE) — St. John’s Medical Center administrators are bracing for a fight over a proposed bill that would increase its property tax burden.

A bill that has passed out of the Joint Interim Revenue Committee would limit the types of property government entities would be able to own and operate without paying taxes on them. Essentially it would limit tax-exempt property for such organizations, like St. John’s, to what is used for their base operations, which is not now the case.

“Anything that we own, we buy them and title them under the Hospital District,” CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre said. “Therefore we are tax exempt on those properties.”

That includes the property the hospital uses for employee child care and housing. The new bill would increase the property tax burden for those properties, which Beaupre said might have to be passed on to the employees that use those services.

Beaupre sees the bill as the state looking for new sources of revenue. As royalty income has fallen during a decline in oil, coal and gas prices, the state has been forced to look for revenue elsewhere.

“Taxing property of tax-exempt entities isn’t going to replace coal revenues,” he said. “They’re grasping for anything.”

The bill’s language seeks a change to the phrase “governmental purpose,” which now covers most uses by such entities. It seeks to eliminate from the definition property that is used for recreation or leased by nongovernment entities.

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