May 15, 2015

Cody man imprisoned for gun threat

A Cody man will spend the next three to five years in prison for threatening another man at gunpoint in February.

“The only reason I'm not going to shoot you,” Richard J. Wilson, 31, reportedly told another man outside a Cody bar, “is because I have a kid on the way.”

Wilson pleaded guilty to a felony count of aggravated assault and received the prison time from District Court Judge Steven Cranfill in March, with the judge's formal order issued last month.

Cranfill recommended that Wilson, reported to have been intoxicated when he made the threats, be placed in the prison’s intensive treatment unit. He also must pay $245 under the negotiated sentence.

Cody police
were called to the Silver Dollar Bar shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 20 for a report of an altercation. A bouncer said Wilson had been the agressor in the disturbance, but had left.

Police didn’t find Wilson, but about 20 minutes later, another man called 911 to report he’d just been threatened at gunpoint in the 1000 block of 13th Street.

The man said he’d been helping an intoxicated friend into his truck when a car pulled up behind him, Officer Rick Tillery recounted in an affidavit used to support the charge. The armed, apparently drunk driver — later identified as Wilson — began asking if the man and his friend were the ones who had “jumped” him in the earlier altercation at the Silver Dollar.

“During the questions, Wilson demanded to see (the man’s) face or he advised something bad would happen,” Officer Tillery wrote.

The man tried to assure Wilson that he and his friend had not been in any altercation, but Wilson eventually raised his handgun, pointed it at the man and explained the only reason he wasn’t going to shoot was because he was expecting a child.

“Wilson demanded to see (the man’s) face or he advised something bad would happen,” charging documents say.

When police confronted Wilson at his home on Bleistein Avenue, he denied having pointed a gun at anyone and said he didn’t even own one.

However, Wilson matched the physical description given by the man who’d been assaulted and confirmed he and his wife were expecting a child.

Police arrested Wilson and, after he was treated at West Park Hospital for head injuries from the earlier altercation, took him to jail.

Detective Sgt. Beau Egger later learned that Wilson actually had returned to his apartment after the first altercation and got a handgun. The affidavit says Egger found the gun wrapped in underwear and hidden under a bag of mulch in the yard behind Wilson’s apartment.

Wyoming Game and Fish rediscovers its connection to Mark Wahlberg film

When the script called for Mark Wahlberg's character in “Shooter” to hole up in the Wind River Range, the film’s producers opted to have British Columbia stand in for western Wyoming.

However, an authentic, recently rediscovered piece of the state did make a brief appearance in the 2007 film.

In the supposed Wyoming cabin that Wahlberg’s character calls home, there sits on a coffee table a copy of “Wyoming Wildlife” magazine.

Mark Wahlberg's signature adorns this recently rediscovered issue of "Wyoming Wildlife." Photo courtesy Renny MacKay
It’s not exactly obvious.

“You probably have to look pretty close,” said Renny MacKay, a spokesman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which produces the monthly wildlife magazine.

“Shooter” filmmakers requested an edition of Wyoming Wildlife for a prop and “we sent them a few copies,” MacKay explained.

He said magazine staffers were able to spot their publication on a cabin table when they watched the film years ago.

It takes trained eye to spot the Wyoming Game and Fish magazine in the movie.

Depending on who you ask at the department, Wahlberg might have planned to read the magazine to get more familiar with Wyoming and its wildlife, though others think it was strictly a prop, MacKay said.

What’s more clear is what Wahlberg did with the September 2005 magazine after the shoot: he signed it, along with a couple photographs of himself, and sent them to the folks at “Wyoming Wildlife.”

The autographed magazine was recently rediscovered in a former editor’s filing cabinet, prompting MacKay to share a photo on Twitter.

A different Wyoming prop — a state license plate — is actually featured more prominently in the movie.

The plate made it into the storyline, as Wahlberg’s character covertly photographs it so he can research its ownership. However, what made the front license plate more notable is that filmmakers goofed up: when the vehicle it adorns is first shown, the plate isn’t there.

The producers apparently struggled to realistically depict Wyoming license plates throughout their filming; an “goofs” page points out that in one of the movie’s news clips, supposedly broadcast from Wyoming, all of the cars are missing the state’s mandatory front plates.

May 14, 2015

Yellowstone fees to go up in June

Starting next month, visits to Yellowstone National Park will be a little more expensive.

The price of a week-long long park pass will rise from $25 to $30 per vehicle on June 1. An annual pass to the park, meanwhile, will rise from $50 to $60.

Starting June 1, getting into Yellowstone -- such as through the East Entrance shown above -- will cost at least $5 more. Photo courtesy Jay Elhard, National Park Service
In addition to the price increase, the annual and week-long passes won’t get you as far: Yellowstone passes will no longer be recognized in Grand Teton National Park. Instead, visitors wanting to travel through both parks will need to either buy a week-long $50 joint park pass or an $80 annual pass that’s good for all the national parks across the U.S.

Yellowstone administrators announced the fee changes on Monday, saying in a news release that they were doing so “in order to fund important resource protection and visitor facility projects within the park.”

“We use our entrance fees to complete critical projects that benefit park visitors and our natural resources,” Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a news release. “Eighty percent of the revenue we collect stays right here in Yellowstone and funds projects including road repairs, campground upgrades, rehabilitation of park structures, accessibility improvements for people with disabilities, radio and utility systems improvements, native fish restoration and aquatic invasive species mitigation.”

Yellowstone officials first proposed the changes in November as part of a National Park Service effort to raise fees at many locations.

The Park Service estimates the fee changes will bring in an extra $3 million a year, with annual collections totaling around $11 million.

In a proposal that would have been unique to Yellowstone, park brass initially intended to replace the week-long passes with ones good for just three days. It would have allowed the park to collect additional fees from the roughly 30 percent of visitors who spend more than three days in Yellowstone. However, park officials announced Monday that they’d scrapped the three-day idea after hearing public criticism that it would be too confusing.

Park spokeswoman Traci Weaver said abandoning the recommendation meant passing up roughly $1 million a year.

The Park Service estimates the other changes will still bring in an extra $3 million a year, with annual collections totaling around $11 million.

It didn’t take a particularly large outcry for Yellowstone administrators to back off the three-day passes. Weaver said that during the 46-day public comment period, the park received 18 comments criticizing the idea. One came from City of Cody leaders.

“Many comments referred to the fact that adding more options would just confuse people and make the lines at the entrance stations longer,” Weaver said in an email. “Other comments included statements such as, ‘you can’t see the park in 1-3 days.’”

The Park Service abandoned the idea of trimming passes from the standard week to three days after the change was panned as being too confusing.

The park service received a total of 217 comments.

Ninety-seven commenters (45 percent) opposed the entire proposal, 35 of them (16 percent) wanted a more limited increase or opposed certain parts (like the separation of Grand Teton and Yellowstone fees), while 85 people (39 perecent) supported park managers’ plans, Weaver said.

The vast majority of the comments — 189 of them, or 87 percent — were submitted online.
Acting Yellowstone Superintendent Steve Iobst initially planned to exclude online comments. A park spokesman explained at the time that letting people mail in or hand deliver their thoughts “offered adequate opportunities for public comment.”

But records showed it was the first time in more than eight years that the park had sought public input without giving an opportunity to comment online or via email. Further, other national parks who were proposing fee increases, including Grand Teton officials, accepted online comments.

Yellowstone brass initially weren't going to allow comments to be submitted online, but they later changed its mind.
After criticism from citizens and media outlets, Iobst ultimately reversed course, extended the public comment period and allowed the online comments.

The last rate hike took place in 2006, when the per-vehicle fee rose from $20 to $25.

“Previous fee increases have had no effect on visitation levels,” the Park Service said in its news release.

County orders Ralston man to move shop, then backs off

Move it or lose it — or maybe never mind.

After directing a Ralston man to either move his shop 15 feet or face legal action, Park County commissioners now may change the regulation he’s violating.

County commissioners ruled last month that Tom McCauley’s 40-by-60-foot shop was built too close to the alley that runs between Bridger Avenue and Lane 11 in Ralston. County regulations require structures to be at least 20 feet from county roads — which includes alleyways — and McCauley’s building is only around five feet back.
This Ralston shop is too close to the alley under current Park County regulations. Photo by CJ Baker

“The structure must be moved within 30 days,” explained Commissioner Loren Grosskopf after a unanimous April 21 vote.

“Or it will be referred to the county attorney,” finished Commission Chairman Joe Tilden.

However, earlier this month, the county extended McCauley’s deadline by 60 days because officials are considering changing the regulations to require only five-foot setbacks from rural alleys.
If that happens, “he’ll still have to come to us to ask us for a variance, but I’ll certainly give it to him,” Tilden said Friday.

It’s a significant change in tone from last month’s meeting, which appeared to be the final word on the violation that was noticed years ago by planning and zoning staff.

County Planning Director Linda Gillett issued a formal notice of violation in March and McCauley appealed to commissioners, arguing in part that the county’s 20-foot setback requirements are unreasonable for small lots.

“It’s like, if we’re going to have regs, are we going to enforce them or not?”
said Commissioner Tim French.

At the hearing, Commissioner Tim French said the county might need to reconsider whether a 20-foot setback is too much for an alleyway. (For comparison, detached structures must be set back five feet from alleys in the City of Cody and 15 feet in Powell.)

“But what’s happened here is there’s individuals that wanted to build right close to the alley and we told them no, there’s a setback,” French said, adding, “A lot of people are like, ‘That’s baloney he can do that’ and ‘I played by the rules and he didn’t.’”

He said the issue has created “a lot of heartburn” among different people.

“It’s like, if we’re going to have regs, are we going to enforce them or not?” French asked rhetorically.

McCauley, however, noted there are several other structures well within 20 feet of the alley — some even closer than his.

“I don’t understand (why) it’s OK for everybody else to build stuff two feet off of the land, but it’s not OK for me,” McCauley said.

The county allowed one property owner to build just 10 feet off the alley because of a lack of room, but Gillett said most of the other offending outbuildings appear to have been constructed before the zoning regulations took effect in 2000.

“I can’t say this never happened,” she said. “It has been happening in Ralston.”

Ralston was originally laid out as a town, but has never become one — explaining why it has generally undeveloped alleyways.

“I don’t understand (why) it’s OK for everybody else to build stuff two feet off of the land, but it’s not OK for me,” McCauley said.

McCauley’s appeal was undercut in commissioners’ minds by the fact he signed off on a building permit specifically showing that the shop would be built 20 feet off the alley.

“I didn’t realize I had to abide by every inch of that, I guess,” McCauley explained. He said he provided the permit to his contractor and it seemed logical when they built the new structure in the same spot as an old garage that had preceded it.

“It’s my fault that it got built there. I don’t know what else to say,” McCauley said.

Tilden said at the hearing that part of what bothered him is that McCauley has had years of trouble with the county’s zoning regulations in connection with a trucking business he runs on the property.

“So now here we are after letter, after letter, after letter, and listened to complaint after complaint,” Tilden said. Commissioners’ resolution on the subject, signed later, said the record showed a series of complaints and violations dating back to spring 2010 which was “evidence of disregard for the regulations.”

McCauley said some of the complaints about his business are “B.S.” and that he would have spoken with commissioners at any time.

The county will consider changes to its regulations in July.

The alterations to the county’s setback regulations, along with other proposed changes, are scheduled to be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission on July 14. Commissioners are tentatively scheduled to consider the revised regulations on July 21.

May 12, 2015

Badger Basin murder suspect Sandra Garcia denied bail

A former Clark resident charged in connection with the 2014 murder of her then-boyfriend was denied bail at a Friday appearance in Park County’s Circuit Court.

Sandra Garcia, 27, will continue to be held in the Park County Detention Center pending further proceedings in the case.

Garcia did not object to getting no bail versus what would have likely been an extremely high dollar amount.

Sandra Garcia
“I can’t bail out anyway, so if you guys are going to hold me without bail, that’s fine,” she said.

It was the first local court appearance for Garcia, who’s one of three people facing charges for the January 2014 murder of 30-year-old Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres.

Garcia allegedly called for Guerra-Torres’ killing. Authorities say she told her brother that, if Guerra-Torres wasn’t taken care of, “dangerous people” in Mexico would come kill her family over a substantial debt that Guerra-Torres owed.

Charging documents allege Garcia’s brother — 28-year-old Pedro Garcia Jr. — then hired John L. Marquez to kill Guerra-Torres, with Marquez later shooting him dead and then mutilating his body in Badger Basin.

The charges are based largely on a confession that Pedro Garcia reportedly gave to personnel from the Park County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation in March.

“I can’t bail out anyway, so if you guys are going to hold me without bail, that’s fine,” Sandra Garcia said.

Sandra Garcia was arrested in Rincon, Georgia, in March, but it took authorities more than a month to get her back to Park County. She, like her brother, is facing felony charges of conspiring to commit first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder. Marquez is charged with first-degree murder and conspiring to commit first-degree murder.

Wyoming law says someone charged with a crime punishable by death — that is, first-degree murder — can be denied bail if “the proof is evident or the presumption great in the case.”

Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Blatt argued Friday that the case against Sandra Garcia meets that criteria.

Blatt said the charges were based on an eyewitness’ account (Pedro Garcia), that Sandra Garcia had “fled to the state of Georgia,” was “dishonest with law enforcement in the early stages of the investigation” and has ties to Mexico.

“... the deceased’s body was mutilated, obviously for the purposes of trying
to avoid the identity of the victim and the prosecution of this matter,” said prosecutor Tim Blatt.

“More importantly, your honor, the deceased’s body was mutilated, obviously for the purposes of trying to avoid the identity of the victim and the prosecution of this matter as well,” Blatt said.

Circuit Court Magistrate Matthew Winslow agreed there was enough evidence to deny bond.
Winslow said Pedro Garcia's statements — as quoted in an affidavit from Park County Sheriff's Investigator Joe Torczon   — were contrary to his own interests and therefore have more veracity.

“I also find that the affidavit supports the conclusion — at least for the purposes of this hearing — that the defendant was dishonest and evasive, further supporting the veracity of these allegations,” Winslow said.

Investigator Torczon’s affidavit says Sandra Garcia initially told law enforcement she had dropped Guerra-Torres off to meet an associate of a man he owed money and never saw him again. However, Garcia told her mother that Guerra-Torres had been arrested and told her father that she'd put Guerra-Torres on a bus to Mexico, Torczon wrote.

She never reported Guerra-Torres as missing.

Sandra Garcia, who’d been working as a Walmart stocker in Georgia, will be represented by a court-appointed attorney. She said in court that she had hired a private lawyer, “but he didn't show up.”

During the hearing, Garcia also pleaded guilty to three unrelated, misdemeanor traffic violations that she committed last May and June.

Winslow ordered her to pay several hundred dollars in court fines and assessments for driving without auto insurance, a seat belt and without a child properly buckled in, but said she doesn't have to start making payments until she's out of jail.

Guerra-Torres had been Sandra Garcia's significant other, but she never reported him as missing.

If convicted of the counts relating to first-degree murder, Garcia, her brother and Marquez would each face a minimum sentence of life in prison.

Pedro Garcia remains jailed in the Park County Detention Center, with bail set at $1 million cash pending a preliminary hearing.

U.S. Marshals are in the process of bringing Marquez back from Bonham, Texas, where he was arrested in March. Park County Sheriff Scott Steward has said he expects Marquez to be here by the end of the week.

Small label error, big cost for Cody Labs

A minor labeling mix-up at a Cody drug manufacturer is expected to cost its parent company around $2.4 million.

A small number of bottles of an anesthetic produced at Cody Laboratories were recently mislabeled as holding 10 milliliters of the drug when they actually held only four milliliters.

 The product's label as of 2010, taken from the U.S. National Library of Medicine
Lannett Company CEO Arthur Bedrosian announced the error on a Wednesday conference call with analysts and Lannett investors in which he discussed the business’ most recent quarter. The publicly traded company, which owns Cody Labs, voluntarily recalled the mislabeled lot after discovering the mistake, Bedrosian said.

“We believe this is a minor issue, as use of the (mislabeled) product is not considered to present a health risk, and product quality was not affected,” he said.

Bedrosian said Cody Labs has ordered new equipment designed to prevent the problem from happening again and has implemented additional quality controls in the meantime.

Lannett CFO Martin Galvan said the mistake would cost $2.4 million.

The product in question is called C-Topical, a local anesthetic made of cocaine hydrochloride. It's primarily intended for use by ear, nose and throats doctors during surgical procedures, according to label information and Lannett statements.

“While there’s been a little set back with regards to the recall — and it was a minor one, nevertheless it was a costly one — we do think that the product’s upward trend is still there,” said Lannett CEO Arthur Bedrosian.

C-Topical is the first branded product offered by Lannett Company, which otherwise manufactures and sells generic medications. The company currently has the topical solution in a clinical trial and has a group of salesmen actively marketing the product.

“We do see an increase in revenue coming from this product, and we do see a success in this product's potential outlook for us,” Bedrosian said on the call, which was transcribed by the website Seeking Alpha. “So while there’s been a little set back with regards to the recall — and it was a minor one, nevertheless it was a costly one — we do think that the product’s upward trend is still there.”

Lannett is based in and has manufacturing plants in Philadelphia, but the Cody Labs facility is where the company develops and manufactures active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Lannett officials have set a goal of increasing their focus on painkillers and have discussed expanding Cody Labs to help with that effort.

“As the company continues to invest in, and focus, on process and manufacturing optimization, Cody Labs will continue to be an important part of our future growth plan,” Lannett said in last week’s earnings report.

“Cody Labs will continue to be an important part of our future growth plan,” Lannett says.

Eying the jobs that would come with an expansion, Wyoming lawmakers made money available last year to help finance such a project, but Lannett and Cody Labs have not yet decided if they’ll seek a state loan.

Between January and March, Lannett reported net sales of $99.4 million, with a gross profit of $75.6 million, or 76 percent.

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