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Wyoming News Briefs


February 2, 2023

Sheriff deputy shooting case moves to county attorney

 CODY (WNE) — The investigation into the Park County deputy who shot and killed a male suspect in Powell during a traffic stop last year has been forwarded to the county attorney, said Charla Baugher Torczon, executive assistant at the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

In an email sent to the Cody Enterprise in October of last year, Torczon said the case would be submitted to the county attorney once it was completed by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

According to that same email, once submitted to the county attorney, it will then be submitted to a special prosecutor for review.

No other information has been provided at this time.

The deputy-involved shooting occurred on Aug. 30 of last year as a deputy conducted a traffic stop on a male suspect who had an active warrant at the time of the traffic stop, according to the press release.

While conducting the traffic stop, the suspect attempted to flee down a canal road, but he stopped his vehicle and exited with his firearm pointed at the deputy.

He then charged the deputy, at which point the deputy fired shots, killing the suspect, the press release said.

“The deputy was forced to engage the male with lethal force and shots were fired,” the press release said.

The deputy was uninjured during the altercation.

Torczon said the Park County Sheriff’s Office will not release any other information until the entire process has been completed.


Wyoming Supreme Court reinstates Cody attorney

 POWELL (WNE) — After a disbarment that lasted more than six years, Cody attorney and former state legislator Sam Krone has been reinstated to the Wyoming State Bar. 

Krone’s law license had been suspended in 2016, after he was found to have stolen more than $9600 from the Park County Bar Association.

Krone was fired from the county attorney’s office in February 2016, after he sent a series of expletive-laden and demeaning texts to a woman facing a DUI charge, including taunting her about the pending charge. Krone knew the woman personally and was not prosecuting the case himself, but his boss, County Attorney Bryan Skoric, called the messages “absolutely despicable” and inappropriate.

Several months later, the lawyers’ group reported thousands of dollars missing, and an investigation concluded that Krone, the group’s treasurer, had stolen $9633.71. He eventually pleaded guilty to the felony.

However, the state Board of Professional Responsibility found this month that Krone had made a “compelling case” for reinstatement, saying he’d demonstrated he’d moved past the issues that led to his disbarment. 

In a Wednesday order, the Wyoming Supreme Court unanimously adopted the board’s recommendation and restored Krone’s ability to practice law. 

He will be launching a solo practice in the coming months and began work as an assistant public defender on Monday. 

After spending the last few years assisting families with behavioral health issues and working with teens struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, Krone told the bar that he wants to focus his practice on youth and those who are indigent and underrepresented. 

Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the felony charge was dismissed in November 2020, after Krone successfully completed his probation. 

In a Jan. 17 report from the Board of Professional Responsibility that recommended his reinstatement, a three-member panel found “by clear and convincing evidence, that [Krone] has been rehabilitated.” 


Man arrested for aggravated assault after threatening people with screwdriver

 GILLETTE (WNE) — A 32-year-old man was arrested on two counts of aggravated assault after using a screwdriver to threaten people Saturday night.

Three women were driving in the 1600 block of Echeta Road, looking for a dog. One was calling out the dog’s name when they were approached by the man identified as Blaze Loebs, who lives in the area, said Police Deputy Chief Brent Wasson.

Loebs yelled profanities at the women and pulled out a screwdriver. 

He hit the window and roof of the vehicle. When one of the women tried to defuse the situation, Loebs raised his screwdriver and threatened to strike her in the head, Wasson said.

One of the other women tried to pull her friend away, believing the screwdriver was a knife. Loebs raised the screwdriver again and threatened to stab the second woman in the head.

A man who knew Loebs was able to calm him down and take him back into his house, Wasson said.

Loebs was contacted in the home and arrested on two counts of aggravated assault.


Wyoming challenges investment rule change

CASPER (WNE) — Wyoming has joined a 25-state lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor over a new rule that will allow 401(k) managers to direct people’s retirement savings into environmental and social investments, Gov. Mark Gordon announced. 

The 2022 Investment Duties Rule makes changes that authorize fiduciaries to consider and promote “nonpecuniary benefits,” or benefits not consisting of money, when making investment decisions; addressing climate change could be considered a benefit although it could cost a person financial gain. 

The rule is set to take effect on Jan. 30. 

“Allowing political agendas to guide managers investing Americans’ retirement accounts is unacceptable and short sighted,” Gordon said in a statement Thursday. “Their sole responsibility must be the best financial interests of the beneficiaries.” 

A “stated desire to address climate change” by the Biden Administration may put retirement savings up against unnecessary risk, Gordon said. 

The states involved in the lawsuit contend the rule is contrary to longstanding laws outlined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. 

The federal law ensures fiduciaries do not misuse workers’ retirement savings. 

About two-thirds of adult populations will be affected. There are 152 million workers with retirement savings totaling $12 trillion in assets. 

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and now Wyoming, are all part of the lawsuit. 

Cheyenne man gets 15-20 years for child sex abuse

CHEYENNE (WNE) — After more than two years of legal proceedings, Peter Summerhawk, 48, of Cheyenne was sentenced Wednesday in Laramie County District Court to 15-20 years in prison.

Summerhawk pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a child and one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a child.

In August 2020, Cheyenne Police received a report that Summerhawk had been sexually assaulting a juvenile for several months.

Following a thorough investigation, Cheyenne Police detectives sent a detailed five-page affidavit of probable cause to the Laramie County District Attorney’s office on Oct. 29, 2020. Additionally, a 32-page investigative report was also completed and submitted on Nov. 2, 2020. 

More than seven months later, on June 8, 2021, detectives received a “declination of case” letter, signed by former District Attorney Leigh Ann Manlove, indicating that the case could not be prosecuted because additional information was needed. 

However, detectives were not contacted regarding these questions prior to an email dated June 7, 2021.

Manlove has faced scrutiny for allegations that she mishandled the prosecution of cases and inappropriately dismissed certain cases and that she created a hostile work environment. The Wyoming Supreme Court is currently deliberating Manlove’s potential penalty after the State Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility recommended disbarment.

In response, on Aug. 10, 2021, former City Attorney Mike O’Donnell, on behalf of the Cheyenne Police Department, filed a petition requesting that the prosecution be reassigned to the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office.

Approximately one month after O’Donnell’s petition, his successor, City Attorney Stefanie Boster, filed an amended petition providing additional information.

In November 2021, a judge granted the city’s request to have the Attorney General’s Office review and prosecute the case, which resulted in Summerhawk’s guilty plea.

Bill for $5.25 million to fortify border passes committee

JACKSON (WNE) — Some legislators want to send millions out of state to help build a border wall and transport migrants from southwest states to sanctuary cities.

Titled “Border wall and sanctuary city transport,” the bill proposes that the governor enter contracts with the state of Texas, giving the state $3 million to help build a border wall, $250,000 of which could be used to transport non-citizens of the U.S. to sanctuary cities in other states.

The bill, which passed the Senate Appropriations committee 3-2 this week, proposes sending $2 million to Arizona with the same intent, and $250,000 to Florida for transporting migrants.

A sanctuary city is not a legal term, but refers to communities that have a written or unwritten practice of limiting their enforcement of, without violating, federal immigration law.

Sen. Mike Gierau, a Jackson Democrat, recently filed an amendment to gut the bill of all funding.

Instead of sending $5.25 million out of state for three projects, Gierau’s amendment proposed sending $1 to each instead.

The bill passed the appropriations committee 3-2 and will next be taken up in the Senate.

Barrasso, Lummis join bill to stop Biden’s student debt cancellation

CHEYENNE WNE) — U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, both R-Wyo., have joined U.S. Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., in reintroducing the Debt Cancellation Accountability Act.

A news release from Barrasso’s office stated: “This legislation would prevent the Biden administration from enacting an overreaching and irresponsible blanket cancellation of student loans. It requires the U.S. Department of Education to obtain an express appropriation from Congress to pay for any federal student loan debts the Department proposes to waive, discharge, or otherwise reduce whenever granted to two or more borrowers in an amount greater than $1,000,000, rather than on a case-by-case basis.”

Barrasso said in the release, “President Biden’s attempt to cancel millions of dollars in student loans undercuts hard-working Americans who are responsibly paying off their debt. ...Our bill will hold the administration accountable and make sure no taxpayer in Wyoming or across the country is stuck paying off someone else’s student loans.”

The release quotes Lummis as saying, “It is lunacy that the Biden administration believes that people in Wyoming should fund his student loan bailout. It is unconstitutional and it is unfair.”


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