Alleged conspirator charged with role in meth network

Posted 4/16/19

After putting the leaders of a large drug distribution ring behind bars, authorities are beginning to prosecute those alleged to have played smaller roles in the organization.

The Park County …

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Alleged conspirator charged with role in meth network


After putting the leaders of a large drug distribution ring behind bars, authorities are beginning to prosecute those alleged to have played smaller roles in the organization.

The Park County Attorney’s Office recently filed a pair of felony charges against a 31-year-old Cody woman, Erin J. Clark. Agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation say Clark distributed relatively large quantities of methamphetamine between January and July 2017, working with local ring leader William “Bill” Lee, also of Cody.

The charges specifically allege that, on a near-daily basis, Lee delivered a 3.5-gram “eight-ball” of meth to Clark at LaVina’s bar and liquor store in Powell, where she worked at the time. After accepting the drugs through the establishment’s drive-through window, Clark would sell them and pay Lee $280, charging documents allege, amounting to about half of the proceeds.

The case is based on statements that DCI agents gathered between the fall of 2017 and the summer of 2018 from confidential sources, Lee and Clark herself.

Clark was arrested in late March and charged with counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of meth with intent to deliver. She pleaded not guilty in Park County District Court last week, with a trial tentatively set for June.

At a March 28 hearing back in Circuit Court, Clark’s court-appointed defense attorney, Travis Smith, noted that the allegations were serious, but also fairly old.

“She [Clark] sat down with law enforcement [last year] after she had cleaned her act up and separated from these people,” Smith said, adding that Clark is about halfway through the county’s drug court program.

“Now,” Smith said, “she’s charged and sitting in jail.”

Noting that his client cooperated with investigators, Smith said Clark “is trying to change her life and she’s doing that,” and he questioned if prosecutors were trying to send a message by jailing her.

In contrast, Deputy Park County Attorney Leda Pojman argued that Clark was still having run-ins with law enforcement, indicating Clark had recently violated her probation on other, misdemeanor charges.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters slightly lowered Clark’s bond last month, but left it at $25,000 cash, citing public safety issues.

“The fact that I can’t ignore is we’re talking about selling an eight-ball of meth a day for a long period of time ... ,” Waters said, adding, “Even though Ms. Clark may have turned over a new leaf, so to speak, that past conduct is concerning.”

However, last week, District Court Judge Bill Simpson allowed Clark to post a $25,000 surety bond instead of cash; she made bail hours after the April 9 arraignment, allowing her to go free pending a trial.

Clark’s case stemmed from DCI’s multi-year investigation into a drug trafficking organization that was moving meth across Park, Big Horn and Natrona counties. During their work — which started in November 2016 — DCI agents came to believe that Lee was the area’s largest meth dealer. They arrested Lee, his wife, two of his suppliers and an associate in early 2018; the five are now serving a combined total of nearly 45 years worth of prison time.

For more than a year, Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric has said that more people would be charged in connection with the investigation. DCI agents used various techniques in their investigation, including wiretapping Lee’s phone and interviewing numerous confidential sources (CSs) and informants (CIs).

DCI Special Agent Chris Wallace, a Powell police officer currently assigned to the agency, testified at Clark’s preliminary hearing that the motives of the CSs and CIs varied. Some were looking for leniency on an upcoming jail or prison sentence, others wanted to avoid being charged with crimes altogether and “some of them even told us they just wanted to be a good citizen; clean up their community,” Wallace said.

The agent said that, while in custody last year, Lee shared information with law enforcement officials in a so-called proffer session “in an attempt to obtain a lesser sentence.”

U.S. District Court records do not say whether Lee’s efforts were successful, but in stipulating to a 135-month prison term for Lee earlier this year, the federal prosecutor on the case called it “a pretty forgiving sentence” for the repeat offender.

Wallace indicated in court that Lee offered information about a host of conspirators.

“With so many people we talked about with him, spanning from Gillette to Casper to Big Horn County to Washakie County to Denver, Colorado, yeah, we did not get specific dates [of drug transactions], but … he gave us his best recollection of what he was involved with and who he dealt with,” Wallace said.

As of Monday, Clark is the only additional conspirator to have been charged in Park County. While free on bond, she cannot leave the county without permission from Judge Simpson and must check in with law enforcement three days a week, among other conditions.