Crook County Treasurer responds to charges
SUNDANCE — Crook County Treasurer Mary Kuhl has responded to the verified petition filed against her by Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill, which seeks to suspend her from office.
The petition, signed by Hill on behalf of the State of Wyoming, cites the felony and misdemeanor charges that are pending against Kuhl, which include a felony count of unauthorized use of monies and three misdemeanors: one count of official misconduct and two of issuing false certificate.
The petition also accuses her of theft from the Crook County Treasurer’s Office vault, a complaint that was new to the civil case and does not appear within the original criminal charges.
Kuhl’s response to the petition, filed by her attorney, Jason Tangeman, claims that, “Kuhl’s conduct was at all times lawful pursuant to statute and relevant case law” and also conformed with good practices and customs for Wyoming treasurers.
Claiming that District Court lacks jurisdiction and the venue is improper, Tangeman argues in Kuhl’s answer that the process to remove her from office violates the Wyoming Constitution and statutory due process of law.
Kuhl’s response also complains that she has been found guilty before the criminal trial concludes.
The petition originally filed by Hill states that Gov. Mark Gordon reviewed the verified complaint from the Crook County Commissioners and, “determined that it appears that Kuhl is guilty of misconduct or malfeasance in office.”
Kuhl’s response complains that the governor “has already found Ms. Kuhl guilty without first holding a trial as required by statute.”
This, states Tangeman, “denies Ms. Kuhl her constitutional right to due process of law and a fair trial.”
In her answer to the petition, Kuhl denies that Crook County is the proper venue for this matter or that District Court is the correct jurisdiction. She also denies many of the allegations made against her in the petition.
For instance, though she admits accepting payment for an annual vehicle registration fee and then reducing the amount owed in the computer system by $360.01, she denies that the cash on hand for the day was then $360.01 less than the receipts.
Kuhl admits later changing the computer system to re-add the $360.01 and then placing the same amount in cash into the cash box.
However, according to her response, “Ms. Kuhl alleges the funds were placed in the office safe until the transaction was completed when the funds were properly restored to the cash drawer.”
Kuhl therefore denies that her actions violated Wyoming Statutes, which prohibit county treasurers from using public monies for any purpose not authorized by law.
Regarding the incident in which Kuhl is accused of using someone else’s registration tab on her own vehicle, she admits that the tab was issued to a member of the public, lost in the mail and returned to her office. However, she denies using the tab to avoid paying the registration fee for her personal vehicle.
Kuhl also denies issuing a temporary registration for a vehicle that belonged to a person she knew was not statutorily eligible to receive one.
She admits that, on July 13, she issued a registration for a different vehicle for that same individual. The vehicle was not a new purchase, she claims, but had been advertised for sale for over a year.
According to Kuhl’s answer, the individual was only registering the second vehicle because she had totaled the first one. She admits applying a credit to the registration fee from the remaining registration for the totaled vehicle.
However, she denies the accusation that the totaled vehicle was not registered in that individual’s name, which would have made the person ineligible to receive the credit.
Kuhl also denies allegations that first appeared in the civil case and are not reflected in the criminal charges against her.
According to Hill’s petition, $2400 went missing from a cash bag kept in the office vault between March 2020 and July 19, 2021.
Kuhl denies this claim, as well as the allegation that office employees then began daily audits and found that $100 went missing on July 20 and $400 on July 23, on both occasions after she had been alone in the vault.
Kuhl’s answer to the Attorney General’s petition demands that the case be dismissed with prejudice and that she be awarded her costs, expenses and attorney’s fees.
Shortly before filing her answer, Kuhl petitioned for additional time to respond. She asked for an extension to September 24.
Tangeman argued in his motion that, “This matter is unique and somewhat complicated both factually and by the fact there are concurrent criminal charges requiring additional time within which to draft a meaningful answer.”
However, her request was denied.
“Having reviewed the nature of the proceedings and the apparent intent of the governing statutory law, the court finds that the defendant’s motion should be, and hereby is, denied,” stated Judge John R. Perry in his response.
The civil case that would see Kuhl removed from office as county treasurer is taking place alongside a criminal case focused on the felony and three misdemeanors she has been charged with.
In the criminal case, Kuhl pleaded not guilty at the end of August to all charges against her. A pre-trial conference with District Judge Stuart S. Healy III has now been scheduled for December 15.