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Former Casper Businessman Sued Over Sex Assault Allegations

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A woman who accused a former Casper businessman of sexually assaulting her in 2017 has filed a federal lawsuit in the incident.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the woman is asking for a jury trial in her complaint against Tony Cercy, now a Texas resident, which alleges he sexually assaulted her and threatened to have her killed if she told anyone about the incident.

Cercy was acquitted on two charges stemming from the incident in 2018 and convicted on a charge of third-degree sexual assault in a second trial in 2018. However, the conviction was overturned by the Wyoming Supreme Court on the grounds the jury in Cercy’s trial was given improper instructions.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling, prosecutors declined to seek a third trial.

According to the lawsuit, the woman, who lives in South Carolina, was at Alcova Reservoir in June 2017 with friends and after dinner, she went with a group of friends to a party at Cercy’s lake house.

The lawsuit said the woman was was intoxicated and fell asleep on a couch in Cercy’s home fully dressed.

The woman awoke in the early morning hours to find that most of her clothes had been removed and that Cercy was performing oral sex on her, the lawsuit said.

The woman tried to get in contact with her friends to obtain help and tried to flee Cercy’s house, the lawsuit said. It added that as she walked down the driveway from the house, Cercy pulled up next to her in a “side-by-side” recreational vehicle and told her he would take her where she wanted to go.

The woman asked Cercy to take her to a trailer where she believed some of her friends were staying. He did so in a ride the lawsuit described as “frightening” due to Cercy’s “reckless and dangerous” driving.

“When plaintiff climbed out of the ‘side-by-side,’ (Cercy) told plaintiff that if she told anyone what she had just woken up to (Cercy) would have plaintiff killed,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleged Cercy called the woman’s cell phone number three days later “to get on the same page as to what had happened at the lake.” 

The woman reported the assault to law enforcement agencies that day.

In the lawsuit, the woman accused Cercy of sexual battery by having sexual contact with her without her consent or knowledge, and of assault by threatening to have her killed if she spoke of the encounter.

The lawsuit does not request a specific amount in damages.

(Editor’s note: It is the practice of Cowboy State Daily not to identify possible victims of sexual assault.)

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Man Gets Drunk In Yellowstone, Fights Rangers, Gets Charged

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man faces multiple charges in federal court after allegedly getting drunk and fighting with rangers and security guards at Yellowstone National Park this week.

Kyle F. Campbell was charged with eight misdemeanors, including two counts of disorderly conduct, in U.S. District Court. In total, he faces up to four years in prison, $40,000 in fines and up to five years of probation.

According to court documents, around 5:45 p.m. on Monday, a Yellowstone ranger received a report of disorderly conduct occurring at the Grant Marina. Four people had been denied access to their kayak tour by their tour guide because of intoxication.

Campbell, who was part of the group, allegedly became agitated and hostile, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, yelling at the tour guide and making threats.

The group left the scene in a silver minivan towing a trailer. Law enforcement began looking for the group within the park.

A few minutes later, there was a report an incident at the Grant Helispot between Campbell (dressed only in sweatpants and socks) and a security guard. The location of the incident was in an employee RV court in an area clearly marked for employees only.

When a ranger arrived, Campbell put his hands into the air, claiming he did nothing wrong and the security guard was lying. He also kept making threatening gestures toward the security guard, which caused the ranger to detain him, the affidavit said.

Campbell continued to repeat he did nothing wrong, and the ranger noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the man. Campbell confirmed he had been drinking that day and only could say he “had a lot.”

The security guard said he had seen Campbell driving the silver minivan without the trailer. When he told Campbell to drive slower in the area, Campbell flipped him off.

As they kept talking, Campbell got increasingly agitated, getting within a foot of the security guard and making comments about assaulting him, the affidavit said.

Campbell also refused to comply with the ranger’s requests to stay put and stop moving while the security guard was being interviewed. He was then placed inside the ranger’s vehicle.

While the ranger asked the security guard if Campbell could have been driving under the influence, Campbell began to bang his head against the law enforcement vehicle. He was told to stop, which he did momentarily, but then resumed.

After being removed from the car and placed on the ground, Campbell began to refer to the ranger and security guard using racist and homophobic slurs, according to the affidavit.

Campbell attempted to scoot and roll toward the security guard, and the ranger ultimately placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct.

In a search of the silver minivan, officers found empty alcohol and marijuana containers.

He also banged his head against the pavement, injuring his nose and causing it to bleed. He continued to resist detainment and paramedics taking him to the hospital in Livingston, Montana, ultimately leading to him being sedated.

Campbell faces charges in U.S. District Court in Wyoming of disorderly conduct, inference with federal agency functions, being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, driving while under the influence and trespass.

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Wyomingites Featured On TV Show About Solved Cold Case Uden Murders

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

The famous unsolved murder case involving Virginia Uden and her two sons is the topic of a TV show on the Oxygen Cable TV Network Monday night at 6 p.m..

Called “Killer Couples,” the series is about gruesome murders by couples over the years.  The Uden case was a murder case that was unsolved for 33 years.  It was finally solved in 2013. It occurred in Lander and Fremont County.

I owned the Lander newspaper at the time and am interviewed on the show. Virginia Uden was a part-time employee of our newspaper. 

Other Wyomingites including former Fremont County Sheriffs Larry Mathews and Tim McKinney were interviewed.  Former DCI investigator Andy Hanson is featured along with Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Ann Manlove. 

One of Wyoming’s most famous native son authors, Ron Franscell, is prominent. He wrote a terrific book about the case called “Gerald and Alice, A Homicidal Love Story.”

This is the second time a cable channel has done a show on this murder case. The channel Investigative Discovery did one about 10 years ago and it pops up once in a while.  I was on that one, too, and occasionally get emails or phone calls from friends saying they had just seen me in on TV.

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Eastern Wyoming College Still Disabled Following Cyberattack

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington was still operating at a limited capacity on Wednesday after being hit by a cybersecurity attack earlier this week.

Unknown persons attacked the school’s administrative network, disabling its computer, phone and email system sometime early Tuesday morning. All three systems were still down as of Wednesday afternoon and there was no estimate as to when they might be restored.

“We are still investigating and digging through things,” Tami Afdahl, EWC director of college relations, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “We’re honestly just trying to process what happened.”

All EWC employees at both of the college’s campuses in Torrington and Douglas have been affected by this cyberattack, with no one able to access their email or use their phones or computers.

Officials are continuing to investigate the incident and are working to restore service to the campus.

People can visit either the Torrington or Douglas campuses or leave a message at the college’s general voicemail at 307-532-8200 if they are trying to get in touch with the school. Afdahl said employees are still working, albeit without access to certain critical equipment.

She was unable to share any information about how the attacked happened.

“We’re still looking for concrete information, so it would be premature to share anything,” she said.

This is the second time a higher educational institution in Wyoming has been hit by a cyberattack this year. In February, the University of Wyoming was hosting a virtual Black History Month event when people began sending racist and pornographic messages to disrupt the event.

Apparently, the UW was one of many schools across the country to have Black History Month events disrupted by such attacks. Institutions including the University of Southern California, Washington’s Gonzaga University and Rutgers University in New Jersey were “Zoom bombed” with similar hateful, violent words and images.

Cybersecurity attacks have been popping up across the United States this year.

In one incident, hackers shut down an East Coast pipeline in May.

Earlier this month, the Greeley, Colorado, meat processing plant JBS was attacked and its servers in North America and Australia were targeted.

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Eastern Wyoming College In Torrington Hit With Cyberattack

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Eastern Wyoming College’s computer, phone and email systems were disabled Tuesday by a cybersecurity attack, the Torrington college announced.

Investigations are currently underway to fully determine the extent of the attack. College officials are working with local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and local and state IT professionals.

No further information about the cyberattack had been released as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

This is the second time a higher educational institution in Wyoming has been hit by a cyberattack this year. In February, the University of Wyoming was hosting a virtual Black History Month event when people began sending racist and pornographic messages to disrupt the event.

Apparently, the UW was one of many schools across the country to have Black History Month events disrupted by such attacks. Institutions including the University of Southern California, Washington’s Gonzaga University and Rutgers University in New Jersey were “Zoom bombed” with similar hateful, violent words and images.

Cybersecurity attacks have been popping up across the United States this year.

In one incident, hackers shut down an East Coast pipeline in May.

Earlier this month, the Greeley, Colorado, meat processing plant JBS was attacked and its servers in North America and Australia were targeted.

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Wyoming Highway Patrol Record 29% Surge in Drivers Speeding More Than 100mph

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

On the one hand, drivers in Wyoming should be applauded for obeying the law more (or at least, not getting caught) as speeding citations in the state were down by 15% in 2020.

On the other hand, those who did speed really sped. And a lot more often.

According to the Wyoming Highway Patrol, there were 1,481 citations issued for drivers speeding in excess of 100-plus mph, which is a 29% increase from 2019.

Although the department didn’t offer a reason for the increase, it speculated it could have something to do with the pandemic.

There were definitely fewer vehicles on the road in 2020 as traffic in the state dropped by 6.5%.

The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration reported speeding by scofflaws across the country in 2020. And it wasn’t just your average hoodlum violating the rules of the road.  Some lawbreakers are the ones entrusted with keeping the laws.

In Atlanta, a police officer who was supposed to be home in self-quarantine after coming down with COVID-19 was pulled over for driving 130 mph — twice the speed limit.

The Office of Traffic Safety in Minnesota reported that early on during the pandemic there was “half the traffic and twice as many fatalities.”

“We have more available lane space for drivers to use and abuse and people are really, really abusing,” the director of the office told the Washington Post.

And some people are more stupid than others. Take the 33-year-old Minnesota man who filmed himself driving his Lamborghini 213 mph in January. He went to jail after posting the video on YouTube.

Here in Wyoming, the highway patrol will join other western state law enforcement agencies in conducting an Excessive Speed Enforcement Safety campaign from June 25 – 27 in hopes of raising awareness of the dangers of excessive speed.

Scientists at Switzerland’s Dynamic Test Center report occupants have little chance of surviving a 100 mph car wreck. An episode of Mythbusters demonstrates why.

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Men Sentenced to Prison After Being Busted For Drug Trafficking In Sweetwater County

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An Arizona man and Mexican man who is undocumented were convicted and sentenced to prison in U.S. District Court this week after they were caught last summer trafficking drugs through Sweetwater County.

Jose Luis Urrea, 35 of Tucson, and Mario Vera-Sandoval, 51 of Mexico, were each sentenced for their involvement in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Urrea received more than five years in prison, while Vera-Sandoval was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by five years of supervision.

“We know the interstate system is widely used by traffickers,” said Criminal Chief Nicole Romine. “That is why state agencies and local law enforcement in communities along the interstates, along with federal partners, work collectively to pursue and prosecute this type of criminal conduct. Simply put, we will not tolerate the use of our interstate system to transport drugs to or through the State of Wyoming.”

Vera-Sandolval was also convicted of illegally entering the United States, for which he received a sentence of time served.

On Aug. 14, 2020, the men were stopped by a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer in Sweetwater County for a routine traffic stop. After they pulled over, the men quickly exited the vehicle and began “aggressively” checking the tires and couldn’t give a definitive answer as to their travel plans.

During questioning, Urrea admitted he thought there was something illegal in a backpack the trooper saw in the car.

The trooper searched the vehicle, finding five pounds of methamphetamine. Urrea said he was paid $3,000 to deliver the backpack to unknown persons in another state.

Vera-Sandoval was aware that the reason for the trip was to transport methamphetamine and law enforcement discovered he was in the United States illegally. Both men were taken into custody.

Special agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration further questioned the men and gathered enough evidence through their phones, dash cam footage and their own admissions to charge them with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.  

“On behalf of the DEA I’d like to commend the sharp eye of the Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers who made this significant seizure,” said Deanne Reuter, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Denver Field Division. “Officers like these are the real force multiplier when combating the trafficking of these dangerous drugs.”

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Judges Accuse Laramie County DA Leigh Anne Manlove Of “Incompetence” & Violating Rules Of Conduct

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie County’s district attorney should be the subject of a disciplinary hearing regarding a list of alleged violations of the rules governing the actions of attorneys, according to a charge filed with the group that oversees complaints against lawyers.

Leigh Anne Manlove is accused of a variety of violations of the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys in the report filed with the Wyoming Board of Professional Responsibility by W.W. Reeves, a special counsel for the Wyoming Bar Association.

Most of the violations, the complaint said, stem from Manlove’s “failure to competently perform the duties of her office” that prompted all of the judges in Laramie County to write a letter expressing concern about her performance.

The actions that prompted the complaint include Manlove’s exaggerating budget pressures faced by her office to justify the dismissal of almost 1,000 cases in circuit and district court in Laramie County and violating federal labor laws.

Manlove is also accused of misrepresenting the facts surrounding the case of a man accused of killing two people five days after being released from police custody on misdemeanor charges because of a procedural error.

Manlove, a Republican, was elected district attorney in November 2018, defeating Democrat Lynn Boak to replace former District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg.

The charge filed against her with the Board of Professional Responsibility stems from three separate disciplinary investigations, it said, including one prompted by the “unprecedented” letter from Laramie County’s four district court and three circuit court judges in December.

The letter said the judges had “serious concerns about Ms. Manlove’s ability to fulfill her professional responsibilities and her responsibilities to this community.” 

On Manlove’s first day in office, she fired all but one of the office’s prosecutors and several other staff members, starting a pattern that made the office a difficult place in which to work, the complaint said.

“Owing to Manlove’s incompetence and a lack of professionalism, the office was an unhealthy workplace from the beginning of her administration,” it said.

After firing all but one prosecutor, Manlove’s office filed a series of motions to delay court proceedings because the office lacked the attorneys necessary to pursue all the cases.

Those motions falsely blamed Sandburg for the delays, the charge said.

The complaint indicates that Manlove did something similar in 2020, when she dismissed hundreds of cases between October 2020 and January 2021 and reduced the services provided by her office, claiming that budget cuts had made it impossible for her office to fulfill all of its duties.

“The real reason Manlove’s office could not function was not furloughs, but employees quitting because of workplace conditions,” the complaint said. “Only one of the new lawyers hired in January of 2019 is still on the job. Eight lawyers and nine support staff resigned between April of 2019 and November 2020. Those interviewed by the special bar counsel uniformly cite Manlove’s hostile and demeaning behavior as the reason they left their jobs.”

In August 2020, the state announced that attorneys in district attorney’s offices would have to take one unpaid day off per month to help satisfy a need to cut state spending by 10% because of state budget shortfalls.

In a letter distributed throughout the county in September 2020, Manlove made the “false claim” that each of her attorneys would have to take two unpaid days off every month, leaving her office unable to fulfill many of its duties.

Manlove used the letter to justify the dismissal of 132 cases in district court and almost 800 cases in circuit court between October 2020 and February 2021, often filing the letter as a part of her requests to dismiss charges.

She also suggested that law enforcement officers act as prosecutors in non-priority offenses, refused to prosecute misdemeanors or non-violent felony offenses and refused to prosecute violations of game and fish laws.

In another incident, the complaint said Manlove’s office failed to file the proper paperwork in time to bring formal charges against Andrew Weaver, a man who was arrested in September 2019 on misdemeanor charges. As a result, Weaver was released. Five days later, he was accused of killing two people in a Cheyenne shooting.

Weaver was arrested on Sept. 8, 2019. By law, a person taken into custody must be charged within 72 hours or released. Weaver was released on Sept. 11, a little more than 72 hours after his arrest, after charging documents from Manlove’s office were not filed.

Manlove’s office manager documented the event and said the proper filing documents were not sent to the court in time to charge Weaver because they were placed in a “mail run area” for documents to be delivered to the court. The documents were not delivered to the court until after Weaver had been released. The office manager said in such situations, it makes sense to simply walk the documents to the court offices, which are in the same office complex.

Manlove, in a news release, maintained the documents had been received by the circuit court on Sept. 11, but not in time to stop his release.

However, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported the time stamp on the documents indicated they had been delivered to court on Sept. 12 — one day after the 72-hour limit to hold Weaver.

“The press release gave a plainly false account,” the charge said.

The charge also looked at two other complaints against Manlove, both stemming from the release of two men accused of dangerous crimes.

“Manlove’s ongoing incompetence and lack of diligence pose an immediate threat to public safety in Laramie County as demonstrated by … two felony cases brought to the office of bar counsel’s attention by mothers of female victims of dangerous crimes perpetrated by men whose return to the community (without the period of incarceration their crimes warranted) was later endorsed by Manlove,” it said.

In one case, Manlove negotiated a reduction in charges against a man accused of assaulting a woman after being ordered to stay away from her. 

In the other, Manlove agreed to recommend that a man with a lengthy criminal background be placed on probation on charges of stalking, sexual exploitation of a child and aggravated assault. The recommendation to release the man to and put him on probation came after Manlove told one of the man’s victims that she “was dedicated to getting him a long prison sentence.”

“When asked by the mother of one of (the man’s) victims why she made a deal to release (him) from jail, Manlove said ‘Because I can,’” the charge said.

The complaint also said Manlove ordered the legal assistants in her office not to report any overtime they worked, a violation of federal labor laws.

“”This willful violation of the (Fair Labor Standards Act) will result in civil and criminal penalties,” the complaint said.

The document asks the Board of Professional Responsibility to conduct a formal disciplinary hearing into the allegations and impose or recommend that the Wyoming Supreme Court impose appropriate discipline.

If the board conducts a hearing, it will issue its own findings of fact and recommendation for action to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Among the actions the board can recommend are a censure, a form of public reprimand, suspension of the right to practice or disbarment.

Manlove has 20 days to respond to the complaint, which was filed Friday.

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Story Of Wyoming Couple Convicted Of Multiple Murders To Be Told On Oxygen Show

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The story of a Wyoming man and woman accused of multiple murders will soon be told in an Oxygen television show.

The story of Gerald and Alice Uden will be featured in an episode of the network’s “Killer Couples” program on June 25, according to a Facebook post by author Ron Franscell, a former Wyoming resident himself.

Franscell’s book “Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story” looks at the investigative work that went into the filing of charges in 2013 against the Udens for  crimes that occurred in the mid-1970s and 1980.

“The bloody story of homicidal husband and wife Gerand and Alice Uden is coming to a TV near you,” Franscell, a former Wyoming newspaper publisher, wrote on a Facebook post. “Ther sordid tale will be featured on Oxygen Network’s ‘Killer Couples’ series at 8pm on June 25 and you might even get a glimpse of the crime-writer guy who wrote ‘Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story.”

Alice Uden was convicted in 2014 of shooting her third husband in the head while they were living in Cheyenne in 1974 or 1975. Gerald Uden pleaded guilty at about the same time to killing his ex-wife and two adopted sons in Fremont County in 1980.

None of the bodies were ever found.

Alice and Gerald Uden were both serving their sentences at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington. After Alice’s death, Gerald tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his confession in the death of his ex-wife and adopted sons. 

Gerald Uden remains in the Medium Correctional Institution.

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Rock Springs Accountant Sentenced to Jail For Filing Fake Tax Returns

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Rock Springs accountant has been sentenced to four months in jail for filing fake tax returns on behalf of Sweetwater County restaurant owners with the Internal Revenue Service.

Paul Edman, 53, was sentenced on June 7 in U.S. District Court, and his jail time will be followed by one year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty in March to aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.

In February 2017, agents from the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations interviewed Edman about several of his clients, Sweetwater County restaurant owners who were believed to be hiding cas sales.

After a thorough investigation, including the use of a grand jury and interviews, the government determined Edman had willfully counseled the restaurant owners in the preparation of a false 1040 form for calendar year 2014, knowing that the form was false.

Edman made significant adjustments to both personal and business expenses related to the family-owned restaurants to reduce their tax bill, which totaled nearly $645,000.

In emails, he recommended ways they could deduct expenses in a fashion that would not stand out in an audit. This communication was easily traced and proved that Edman willfully provided the advice in an effort to defraud the United States government, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

“All certified public accountants must be held to a higher standard when working with the taxpaying public in preparing income tax returns,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Andy Tsui. “By disregarding this duty and preparing a client’s tax return knowing it contained false deductions, Paul Edman is now a convicted felon and will spend time in prison for his criminal actions.”

Ultimately, Edman reduced the amount of his client’s tax bill by $72,000, signed and filed the tax return electronically.

“Some may argue that tax evasion is a victimless crime, but that could not be further from the truth. We all end up paying when someone unlawfully evades our tax system,” said Acting U.S Attorney Bob Murray. “Edman’s aiding and assisting certain clients file false tax returns is an outright theft of the American taxpayer.”

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