Wyoming news briefs for November 17

Korean War veterans awarded peace medals

CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Veterans Commission partnered with the South Korean government to present Republic of Korea Ambassador for Peace Medals to Wyoming Korean War veterans Monday. 

The medals were issued by the Republic of Korea as an expression of appreciation. 

Seven medals were issued in total, with two of the recipients being living veterans from the Korean War, while five were awarded posthumously. 

Veterans Marvin “Dick” R. Mason, U.S. Army, and Harold A. Schuessler, U.S. Air Force, accepted their medals in person. Family members of Harold E. Blunk, U.S. Army; Robert G. Carmine, U.S. Navy; Jens A. Jensen, U.S. Air Force; Charles J. Pearl, U.S. Army, and John C. Stillwell, U.S. Marine Corps, accepted the honor on their behalf. 

“I was very touched when I found out that they were going to do it,” Mason, who turns 90 in January, said about the ceremony. “I’m just glad to have been able to serve, and I am especially thankful for the help that I enjoy.” 

The Consul General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco, Yoon Sangsoo, aided in the presentation of medals and offered a few words thanking the veterans for helping defend democracy in South Korea almost 70 years ago. 

“Without your support or sacrifice, the Republic of Korea could not defend our freedom, much less win the war,” Sang-soo said. 

The event was originally coordinated by the South Korean government in an effort to recognize the American military personnel that helped defend South Korea on the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.


$10,000 in cash, drugs found in car after traffic stop

GILLETTE — A 31-year-old Minnesota woman was arrested for marijuana possession Friday after she was stopped for speeding on Highway 50 with drugs and about $10,000 cash inside the car.

A Campbell County Sheriff’s Office deputy clocked the blue 2010 Ford Focus speeding 62 mph in a 55 mph zone south of Gillette. 

The smell of raw marijuana came from the vehicle during the stop and the 31-year-old driver and her passenger, a 30-year-old man, denied having marijuana in the car, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

The search revealed several packages of THC edibles, including various packages of THC gummies and several suspected THC chocolate bars. An “energy shot” beverage, with THC and caffeine, was also found in the car. 

A purse belonging to the woman had a bag with suspected psilocybin mushrooms inside, Reynolds said.

Inside of a backpack on the front passenger side floorboard, officers found a canister of marijuana plant seeds along with a paper bag containing about $10,000 in cash, Reynolds said.

The driver was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, and her passenger was not arrested.


Threats to elected officials draw prison time, fine

LARAMIE — A 52-year-old Laramie man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $10,000 after pleading guilty to four counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. 

A federal grand jury charged Christopher Kent Podlesnik with leaving voicemail messages threatening various elected officials on Jan. 28, including U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The messages included profanity-laced and threatening language constituting true threats, which are defined by the U.S. Supreme Court as “statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.” 

In a voicemail intended for Lummis, Podlesnik said, among other things, “You are going to (expletive) get shot in the (expletive) back of the head.” 

To Bouchard, he threatened, “You’re a (expletive) traitor, and you deserve to be shot.” 

Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray denounced the threats and said a hard line response is appropriate. 

“As Americans, we cherish the freedoms secured by our Bill of Rights, including our freedom of speech,” he said. “However, the criminal threats Christopher Podlesnik made with the intent to place multiple victims in fear of injury or death are not free speech protected by the Constitution; rather, those threats cost him a hefty fine and 18 months in federal prison.” 


Man points gun at neighbor, leaves it near 9-year-old daughter

GILLETTE — A 33-year-old man was arrested for both reckless endangerment and child endangerment on Saturday after he allegedly pointed a handgun at his 32-year-old neighbor and then left the loaded pistol on the couch with his 9-year-old daughter.

Three independent witnesses said they saw the man leave his home in the 3100 block of Saddle String Circle, approach the 32-year-old man and point a black handgun at him before returning inside his residence, said Police Cpl. Dan Stroup.

When officers contacted the man with the gun, he was heavily intoxicated. Based on the witness statements, officers arrested him for reckless endangerment.

The investigation found that after the gun-pointing incident, the man left the loaded gun on his couch, where his daughter picked it up and moved it to a different location in the home, Stroup said.

He was additionally charged with child endangerment.