The Star Valley Independent is part of the Wyoming News Exchange. These briefs come courtesy of the WNE.
Utah man charged with human trafficking
CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Utah man could face up to 100 years in prison after being arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.
Terry Blanks, 35, was charged by the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office with two counts of first-degree human trafficking after police arrested him last weekend during a prostitution sting.
Documents filed in the case outline the events that led officers to recommend Blanks be charged with a crime. Those events have not yet been contested in a court of law or by attorneys for Blanks.
According to the initial affidavit:
An undercover detective with the Cheyenne Police Department contacted a woman on cityxguide.com – a website known for providing advertisements for prostitutes – June 29.
The advertisement featured a woman named “Nessa.”
The detective made arrangements to exchange “150 roses,” a code for $150, in exchange for a “QV,” a code for oral sex.
Nessa told the detective to meet her at the Candlewood Suites, 2335 Tura Parkway, later that day.
At around 2:30 p.m., the detective arrived and called the woman. She said she’d meet him in his car.
The woman then escorted the detective to the elevator, where another woman was waiting, as well.
When the two women took the detective up to room 210, he identified himself as a police officer. Other law enforcement officers at the hotel also identified themselves.
Blanks was waiting in a black 1998 Lincoln Navigator outside the hotel.
When police approached him, he initially gave the wrong name.
The women later admitted they traveled to Cheyenne from Utah with Blanks. One woman called him her “boyfriend” and “bodyguard.”
Fire, smoking restrictions imposed for Medicine Bow Forest
RAWLINS (WNE) — Fire and smoking restrictions have been put in effect for the Medicine Bow National Forest areas of Albany and Carbon counties.
Last week, Russel Baon, forest supervisor for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grasslands, ordered the forests to a stage one fire and smoking restriction as of Thursday, July 5.
The restriction prohibits individuals from building or maintaining a fire, campfire or stove fire.
The restriction also prohibits the use of barbecues and grills.
Visitors to the forests will still have the opportunity to build and maintain a fire if done so in a permanent fire pit within a developed recreation site.
The restriction also prohibits individuals from smoking unless in a building, vehicle or an area three feet in diameter cleared of flammable material.
It also prohibits individuals from operating chainsaws without a United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service or Society of Automotive Engineers approved spark arrester.
Those who use chainsaws should also have a fire extinguisher, and a shovel available for use.
People in violation of the restrictions could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $5,000 or face a jail term of up to six months.
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grasslands Public Affairs Specialist Aaron Voos said the fire restriction is expected to remain in effect through September, or until safer condition arrive.
“We would need to have a pattern of cooler, wetter weather,” Voos said. “We would also need for the fuels to retain some of the moistures so they are not quite as receptive to fire.”
Tribal Court dismisses firing lawsuit
RIVERTON (WNE) — A judge for the Wind River Tribal Court has dismissed a lawsuit from Kimberly Craven, the former attorney general for the Shoshone Business Council who claimed she was fired illegally.
“We are glad to be victorious in this lawsuit, but it’s also unfortunate that Ms. Craven could not perform the job that the Attorney General’s position requires,” SBC Chairman Clint Wagon said after the ruling.
The SBC fired Craven on April 30 — less than three months after she was elected by a referendum.
Craven had asked the tribal court to affirm both that she was “duly elected” and that only the Shoshone General Council has the authority to hire and fire any tribal attorneys.
Instead, Judge David Archuleta ruled the SBC had not exceeded the scope of its authority and that Craven lacked evidence to prove the allegations of misconduct against the business council.
In the lawsuit, Craven claimed she was unfairly reprimanded for “inquiring to federal officials about the proper implementation of the Violence Against Women Act, something that was clearly within the scope of the Office of Attorney General.”
Craven claims she was “bullied” by the SBC “since the first day she arrived at Fort Washakie.” She said she was told to report any and all meetings she attended to the SBC.
“They refused to negotiate an equitable salary in the same range as the previous Attorney General — a man,” Craven said. “This discriminatory treatment is another violation of tribal law that guarantees equal pay for men and women.”
Two days after Craven’s firing, the SBC issued a statement claiming it had recorded “numerous violations” of the tribe’s employee handbook and ethics code by Craven.
Man loses fingers to fireworks, receives ticket
JACKSON (WNE) — Jackson police officers were called around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday after a man blew off a few of his fingers when he was setting off fireworks celebrating the Fourth of July.
Police responded to Gros Ventre Street and Broadway. The 28-year-old was trying to take himself to the hospital but had to leave his extremities behind, reports stated.
Officers located his lost fingers and returned them to the man at St. John’s Medical Center. It was unknown at press time if they were able to be reattached.
The man was also ticketed for setting off fireworks. Fireworks are banned in Teton County and Jackson as well as on surrounding federal public lands. A citation can result in a fine of $100 plus seizure of the fireworks.
Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in America’s emergency rooms in 2016, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.