Driver pleads not guilty to enhanced felony

SUBLETTE COUNTY – A Dec. 6 traffic stop turned into an arrest for drug possession, enhanced to a felony charge because the driver had two previous misdemeanor pot convictions in 2003 and 2007.

At his Jan. 6 arraignment before 9th District Court Judge Marv Tyler, Bradley M. Ward of Gillette pleaded not guilty to felony drug possession, open container of alcohol in a moving vehicle and no taillights on a trailer he was towing behind a U-Haul truck, according to court records.

In his affidavit, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Landon Call said he saw the old truck-bed-type trailer did not have taillights at about 7:45 p.m. and he stopped the driver, who said he didn’t have a rental agreement for the U-Haul because the transaction was all online.

He said he operated a logistical delivery business and rented the truck in North Carolina to deliver the blue trailer in Jackson, a brown pitbull from Georgia and furniture to Jackson, the affidavit says.

The trooper discovered an active warrant for Ward for failure to pay a traffic citation fine and arrested him; Call reported the trailer’s license plate did not belong to it and expiration stickers did not match. A U-Haul employee said the rental was overdue and Ward’s female passenger could not drive it. Deputies searched the truck and found alleged drug paraphernalia and green plant material as well as a partly consumed bottle and an empty bottle of whiskey behind the driver’s seat, the affidavit says.

Ward appeared via teleconference, released from custody after paying the Circuit Court’s $5,000 surety bond. Judge Tyler set identical terms and will schedule a jury trial as requested.

The felony carries a maximum of five years in prison and $5,000 fines; the other two charges are misdemeanors with $200 fines and no jail time.