Stolen firearms result in felony charges

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Two men employed by an oilfield company are charged with stealing and concealing four guns their landlady stored in her garage.

Matthew T. Oliver, of Tomball, Texas, and Brandon L. Johnson, residence unknown, each face four felony counts of theft and concealment of a firearm and one misdemeanor theft of items valued at less than $1,000.

Although the rifles’ values might be less than $1,000 each, theft of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, $10,000 or both.

On Dec. 14, the woman, renting the main floor of her Pinedale house to four coworkers week to week, noticed items out of place and three guns missing from her garage, where her tenants were not allowed access, according to an affidavit by Deputy Sinclair Streeter.

Her son confirmed he had several guns stored in the garage, it says.

Two of the four men worked days, the other two worked nights. The woman who cleaned the rooms noticed some items from the garage in Oliver’s room and told the landlady, who called their supervisor, the affidavit says.

The supervisor set out the items – two Halliburton fleece sweatshirts, a Halliburton lunch cooler and a blow-dart gun – and confronted Oliver, who denied taking anything but one sweatshirt, it says.

On Dec. 15, two detectives and Deputy Streeter executed a search warrant and seized the items previously found. The search continued in the basement, where one .30-06 rifle was found in a heater duct beside the crawl space and three more rifles were found between the upstairs floor and a heater duct, the affidavit says.

The next day, Oliver admitted entering the garage, saying it was already open, and finding and handling four guns but denied taking them.

On Dec. 17, the deputy spoke to Johnson, “who had ended his employment and returned home.” Johnson said Oliver allegedly used a butter knife to break into the garage and he saw the guns in Oliver’s room, it says. Oliver reportedly said he planned to keep the guns and hide them, which Johnson helped him do, according to court records.

The four firearms were a .22 LR Remington 1905-1912 rifle, a .30-06 bolt-action rifle, a 20-gauge pump action shotgun and a .22 LR single shot rifle.

Charges against Oliver and Johnson were filed on Dec. 22.

Oliver was arrested and released the same day after paying $10,000 cash or surety bond. His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. in Circuit Court. At press time, Johnson had not been arrested yet.