Aug 17, 2015

Former employee charged with stealing from WyDOT

A Cody man has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars worth of items from the Wyoming Department of Transportation during the tail end of a two-decade career there.

Louis “Alan” Kousoulos — a former supervisor at WyDOT’s Cody shop who ran for governor in 2010 — is facing two felony charges of theft totaling $1,000 or more. The counts allege Kousoulos stole WyDOT property between 2008 and 2009 and between 2012 and 2013.

Kousoulos allegedly stole the items while working at WyDOT's shop in Cody. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker
Charging documents assert Kousoulos took some items sitting around the shop, while other items he specifically ordered for himself, pretending they were for WyDOT business. As one example, Kousoulos is alleged to have purchased more than 10,000 plastic zip ties — at a cost to WyDOT of $2,279 — to help build a new house and garage.

A mechanic who worked under Kousoulos reported the allegations to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation in May 2013. The next day, DCI agents searched Kousoulos’ Cody home and seized a number of items they believed to be stolen property.

WyDOT records say that five months later, in September 2013, Kousoulos retired.

Kousoulos made his first appearance on the charges on Aug. 7 in Park County’s Circuit Court. He was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance while the case is pending.

Court records do not explain the roughly two-year gap between DCI’s initial 2013 investigation and the filing of the criminal charges in late June.

Park County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Skoric attributed the delay to white collar cases generally being a lower priority among limited resources, and he noted the lead investigating officer switched jobs.

“We get to them when we get to them,” Skoric said.

Park County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Skoric said the two-year delay between the investigation and the filing of charges was due in part to white collar cases being a lower priority for law enforcement's limited resources.

An affidavit from former Powell Police Officer Chad Glick filed in support of the charges says the mechanic came forward after noticing some suspicious invoices for zip ties. Kousoulos had reportedly ordered many more ties than the transportation department would need and most were the wrong size, the mechanic told Glick, who at the time was on assignment with a DCI task force. The mechanic said Kousoulos was using the zip ties at his new residence on Cody’s 29th Street, Glick wrote.

Other items — including a $513 hydraulic cylinder and a $64 snow shovel — also appeared to have been ordered only for Kousoulos’ use despite being billed for specific WyDOT equipment or projects, Glick wrote.

The mechanic also recalled a few instances where Kousoulos had taken things from the shop — including taking a two-cylinder hydraulic motor from storage, a 5-foot-long steel beam and a trailer axle that was considered scrap metal, Glick wrote.

Just before authorities searched Kousoulos’ residence on May 8, 2013, Glick had the mechanic place a recorded phone call in which he “warned” Kousoulos that WyDOT supervisors were probing whether Kousoulos had taken some zip ties.

Charging documents include this table that documents the alleged thefts.
“Kousoulos told (the mechanic) not to say anything” and to “do like he always has and to ‘play stupid,’” Glick said of the recorded call. Kousoulos said he was going to take the leftover zip ties at his house and “throw them upstairs before they (WyDOT officials) see them,” Glick recounted.

About 10 minutes later, DCI and a trooper with the Wyoming Highway Patrol searched the property. They found and seized the objects the mechanic had described plus some others, Glick wrote; DCI agent Darrell Steward counted 551 zip ties being used to secure some pipes from a radiant heating system in the unfinished basement.

After the agents left, Kousoulos contacted the mechanic and said “he was probably going to lose his job,” Glick wrote. Kousoulos said he’d admitted to authorities that he’d taken the zip ties, but asked the mechanic to say the longer ties — the ones the mechanic had said were not used at WyDOT’s shop — were used all the time, Glick recounted.

The officer estimated the total value of the stolen items at around $9,850, though the stolen two-cylinder motor may have been worth significantly less than the included $6,810 cost of replacing it with a modern, four-cylinder model.

Kousoulos retired from WyDOT on Sept. 4, 2013, according to department records, ending a career that began in April 1991.

Kousoulos ran for governor on a platform of saving the state money — suggesting specific cost-cutting changes at the transportation department.

When Kousoulos ran for governor in 2010, he told the Casper Star Tribune that as a shop supervisor for WyDOT, he regularly saw areas where the state could save money. He’d pledged to cut $1 million though equipment savings and employee changes.

Kousoulos received about 0.5 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, which was won by current governor Matt Mead.

A preliminary hearing, where a judge will determine if there’s enough evidence for the case to move toward a trial, has been set for Sept. 2 in Cody.

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