By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
A Cody man with a lengthy criminal background who was arrested in connection with operation of a drug ring has been recaptured after eluding law enforcement officers since October.
Philip Dobbins, 44, was apprehended in Cody on Wednesday by federal marshals after walking away from a treatment center in Sheridan.
Dobbins had been allowed to enter the treatment center after being arrested in March 2021 on charges he was a participant in a multi-state drug distribution ring. At the time of his arrest, he was found to be in possession of more than 12 ounces of methamphetamine, along with other drugs and paraphernalia.
Dobbins has a long history of criminal offenses just in Park County, dating back to when he was a juvenile, with his first arrest in 1994.
Since then, RIMS (a law enforcement records management system) shows 23 arrest entries, including criminal charges and the issuing of warrants, according to Deputy Park County Attorney Jack Hatfield.
Hatfield told Cowboy State Daily that six of those charges were from the March 2021 arrest – but those were dismissed by Park County authorities when federal agencies entered the picture.
“I charged him up with six separate counts and he was facing 240 years in prison,” he said. “I charged him with five counts of delivery – three counts were methamphetamine, one count was hydrocodone, the fifth one was oxycodone. And then the sixth count was possession with intent to deliver.”
Hatfield said that federal authorities took over Dobbins’ case last year due to the seriousness of the crimes.
“Each federal law enforcement agency, they have their criteria for what they’re willing to investigate,” he said. “A lot of times, when it comes to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), they’re looking at weight, or interstate sales, or the size or the type of drugs. Federal law enforcement and prosecution is very selective, and the vast majority of crimes committed in this country are prosecuted by state authorities, not by the federal government.”
But the federal government took an interest in Philip Dobbins.
“DCI (the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation) was working with the DEA from pretty much from the beginning of all of the charges that I had on him,” Hatfield said.
A federal magistrate judge in Casper allowed Dobbins to attend a drug treatment facility in Sheridan pending his court appearance, but when Dobbins walked away from treatment, another magistrate judge, former Park County Attorney Kelly Rankin, issued the warrant for Dobbins’ arrest.
“DCI knew that he hadn’t left Wyoming,” Hatfield explained. “They had information that he might be in Riverton, then they had really good info that he was Cody. I just happened to be doing work at home as usual the other night, and I was looking on our RIMS system and I see that Cody PD assisted another agency on a call at Rimrock Tire, and I noticed that it was Phil Dobbins – and I was just like, ‘Oh, they got him.’ So Cody PD got called by DCI and the marshals saying, ‘Hey, we got him, come take him to jail for us.’”
Hatfield explained that Big Horn County has the contract with the federal government in this part of the state to hold federal prisoners, so that’s where Dobbins is currently incarcerated, pending his appearance before a federal judge in Casper.
Prior to his March 2021 arrest, Dobbins was convicted twice for drug offenses, Hatfield said.
“He has at least two convictions for violation of the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act, other than simple possession,” Hatfield said. “He was convicted in 2007 for attempt or conspiracy to commit a violation of the controlled substances act, and then on June 13, 2016, for being under the influence of controlled substances.”