Crook County Treasurer objects to new charges

SUNDANCE — County Treasurer Mary Kuhl has objected to new charges filed against her in the civil case that seeks her removal from office, complaining in a response filed with District Court that it’s unfair to add new information so close to the date of her trial. 

A motion was made by the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office on September 16 to file the new charges as an amendment to the original petition for Kuhl’s removal. 

The amendment added new information regarding alleged thefts from the vault as well as findings of theft and falsified documents that came from an FBI investigation into Kuhl’s conduct. 

Kuhl’s attorney, Jason Tangeman, has filed a response in opposition to this amendment, objecting to the inclusion of new charges so soon before the October 12 trial. 

The response also notes that some of the allegations come from an investigation that has not led to prosecution. 

The two charges to which Tangeman notes specific opposition come from an investigation by a special agent from the FBI, who was assigned to look into Kuhl’s conduct in April, 2019 regarding “substantially similar allegations” to the ones that appear in the criminal charges against Kuhl and caused the county and State to seek her removal from office. 

The first involves the alleged falsification of a bill of sale to cover up an incident in which Kuhl manipulated a citizen’s transaction. 

The State alleges she stole the $360, provided a false bill of sale to the special agent and made “multiple material misstatements” to cover the theft. 

The second accusation is similar: Kuhl allegedly voided a transaction entirely to steal the $194.40 paid by the customer, later claiming she found the money in the safe and re-entered the transaction. 

Again, Kuhl is accused of providing falsified documents and lying to the special agent to cover up the theft. 

Noting that both findings are “entirely new allegations,” Tangeman argues in his response to the amendment that, “The State of Wyoming was well aware of these allegations prior to filing its original petition,” but has not explained why the findings were not included in the original petition. 

“Moreover, these are allegations which the FBI investigated and which the United States Attorney’s Office declined prosecution,” states the response from Tangeman. 

Most of the original charges included in the civil case sprang from the criminal charges against Kuhl, which Tangeman argues meant she had plenty of opportunity to prepare a defense against them. 

Not so for the ones stemming from the FBI investigation, he points out. 

“As such, not only are the claims untimely, but they also unfairly prejudice Ms. Kuhl less than thirty days before a jury trial,” he states. 

In Kuhl’s response, Tangeman argues that Wyoming Rule of Civil Procedure does allow a party to amend its pleadings, but only with the consent of the opposing party or the leave of the court, the latter of which is discretionary. 

Tangeman acknowledges that an amendment should only be denied upon a showing of “undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive or undue prejudice.” The untimely nature of the amendment, he says, is a valid basis to deny it.