Big Piney man's sentence suspended for probation

SUBLETTE COUNTY – A Big Piney man pleaded “no contest” to a felony theft charge as well as a misdemeanor of unlawful use of registration.

Shane Copeland changed his “not guilty” pleas during a videoconference 9th District Court hearing on May 27 and a prison sentence is suspended in favor of successful completion of three years of supervised probation.

Copeland was charged with theft after his Triple Peak Landscaping work trailer was identified as one stolen from beside a highway in southeast Wyoming, records show. He was represented by Rives White, and with Sublette County Deputy Attorney Stan Cannon they reached a plea agreement.

By pleading “no contest,” Judge Marv Tyler explained the usual factual basis of the crime was not required. Cannon referred to Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Mitch Kannier’s affidavit as providing a foundation.

He said for a time, Copeland “avoided responsibility” but later cooperated fully with investigators and talked about family issues. “We believe that and the no contest plea reflects the responsibility (Copeland) is taking in this case.”

He said, “The trailer was stolen – not be the defendant (but it was) a $15,000 trailer and he paid a couple grand for it.”

The former owner was completely compensated, Cannon said.

The plea agreement called for a prison sentence of two to four years, suspended, with one day’s credit for time served and three years of supervised probation. For the registration misdemeanor, he would pay a $400 fine.

“It’s not as if Shane is skating … or getting away with something here,” White told Judge Tyler. The plea agreement was a “good balance.”

He asked if Copeland, under supervised probation, could be allowed in his parents’ bar, The Spur, in Big Piney. Cannon said he had no objection to Copeland helping with events.

However, Judge Tyler took a different view, saying nearly everyone on probation must avoid alcohol and establishments where it is sold and served. Allowing Copeland to be supervised under different conditions than most everyone else “creates a perception problem.”

“I understand the reason you give but I am leaving it entirely up to the probation agent (Jeanne Whinnery),” Judge Tyler said. “It’s up to her.”