More groups appeal grizzly ruling

JACKSON (WNE) — Wyoming now has some company in its decision to fight a judge’s September decision that restored Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears, precluding a hunt.

Four interveners in the dispute between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and environmental groups and Native American tribes have also submitted notices to appeal. The “defendant interveners” that have signed on alongside the state of Wyoming include Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, which filed jointly, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, which also filed jointly. The groups all submitted their legal paperwork last week.

The primary defendant, the Fish and Wildlife Service, has not yet decided to appeal U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s September ruling that reinstated federal protections for the 700 or so grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The deadline to do so is Dec. 24.

If the federal government doesn’t appeal, Wyoming and the nongovernmental groups’ appeals may not hold much weight, according to one attorney on the opposite side of the dispute.

“They must know that their appeal is invalid unless the Fish and Wildlife Service also appeals,” Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney and Victor, Idaho, resident Andrea Santarsiere said. “I would guess they’re either trying to make a statement to the public or pressure the Fish and Wildlife Service to appeal.”

The notices of appeal that the defendant-interveners filed do not shine any light into legal arguments, but rather are brief procedural documents.

 

Settlement reached in home efficiency scam

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office announced Friday it had reached a settlement with a company accused of scamming people into purchasing “home efficiency products” that didn’t lower homeowners’ utility bills as promised.

Pinnacle Powerful Solutions and its two owners, Ron Yung and Linda Pearson, must issue refunds to all Wyoming residents who bought their products, totaling $85,000, in 15 weeks. If they do not meet the time restriction, they will be subject to a $60,000 penalty.

The company also is banned from selling home efficiency products in Wyoming for five years.

Pinnacle Powerful Solutions came under scrutiny after issuing a mailer inviting people to have a free steak dinner at Wyoming’s Rib and Chop House, according to the attorney general’s initial filing in August.

Attendees listened to a presentation from Pinnacle Powerful Solutions about equipment meant to provide “efficiencies” and lower utility bills. Customers paid thousands of dollars for the equipment that ultimately had no benefit, according to the filing.

When people went to confront the company about the false promises, the agents who sold it to them had left town.

“The attorney general is thankful to those consumers who came forward to report this scam,” Attorney General Peter Michael’s office wrote in a news release. “It is important to the legitimate businesses who provide home improvement and other valuable services that their reputations are not tarnished by the few who are willing to break the law in search of easy money.”

Refunds will be provided from the company by mail, according to the release.

 

Man sentenced to prison in assault of 6-year-old

CASPER (WNE) — A judge Friday sentenced a Casper man to 8 to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl.

Judge Thomas Sullins sentenced Matthew Canady for a conviction of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Canady’s conviction came as the result of a plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to dismiss additional felonies against him.

The deal did not include any limit on the sentence Canady would serve beyond that provided by state law.

Canady’s court-appointed defense attorney, Joseph Cole, asked Friday in Natrona County District Court for his client to serve 3 to 13½ years imprisonment.

Speaking before a courtroom audience of nine, including two District Attorney’s Office representatives and two reporters, Cole said a pre-sentence investigation recommendation for community correction should be considered in offering Canady the three-year low end.

Sentences with a wide spread in years, such as the one Cole proposed, mean inmates are typically eligible for parole at an earlier point and spend more time on the release program than they otherwise would.

Prosecutor Kevin Taheri presented a written statement prepared by the survivor’s mother for Sullins to review. The judge did not read the statement aloud but referred to the effect on the victim as “absolutely heartbreaking.”

Taheri told the judge on Friday that Canady had made the child perform oral sex on him.

Canady, who appeared in court wearing Natrona County Detention Center garb, will be transferred to Wyoming Department of Corrections custody to serve out his sentence.

 

Identities of fire victims released

RIVERTON (WNE) — Officials have confirmed the identity of the two Fremont County residents who died Dec. 16 in a house fire in Shoshoni.

Barry William Fuller, 64, and Brenda Fuller, 57, died at the scene of the fire.

The deadly incident was reported at about 6:20 a.m. at their home in the 100 block of West Fifth Street in Shoshoni.

Fremont County Fire Protection District chief Craig Haslam said a neighbor smelled and saw smoke coming from the roof of the Shoshoni house and called it in as a possible structure fire.

He said the first firefighters to arrive at the scene saw heavy smoke coming from the roof and made entry, knowing the occupants may be inside.

“They found one person immediately,” Haslam said, describing “active flames” inside of the house. “It took us a while to find the other one.”

He said the first occupant was found in the front room of the home, while the other was in a hallway.

Both were removed from the burning building to be examined by ambulance crews while firefighters continued battling the blaze, Haslam said.

The house was a total loss, he continued, though the brick walls are still in place and the roof is still “on.”

“The interior is shot,” Haslam said. “The house is damaged pretty severely inside.”

The fire investigation will inform Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen’s determination of cause and manner of death.

“They need to determine what the source and ignition point of the fire was and what caused it before we’ll (make a conclusion),” Stratmoen said.

 

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers