SUBLETTE COUNTY – Another county employee has been fired and subsequently charged with four misdemeanor counts of misuse of public property and personnel “for personal gain.”
Former Sublette County Waste Management lead operator Ronald D. Gordon – who took over former supervisor Brad Clingman’s duties after he was sentenced in 2014 for similar crimes – had charges filed against him Aug. 4 in Circuit Court.
The charges came on the heels of a special meeting on Aug. 1, which was called by Sublette County Board of Commissioners chair Andy Nelson, for an executive session to “discuss a personnel matter.” At the conclusion, the board announced “that the employee discussed in the executive session has been terminated with cause,” according to county clerk Mary Lankford.
At their regular meeting on Tuesday this week, the commissioners held two executive sessions to “discuss personnel.” At the conclusion of the second, which included the two top employees at Road and Bridge, the commissioners reconvened and unanimously passed a motion to “appoint Pat Johnson as the lead operator at the landfill, with supervision by Road and Bridge, for a timeframe of 90 days.”
According the Nelson, that timeframe “is to see how it works for 90 days” and ultimately decide whether Johnson takes over permanently or if someone else will need to be hired for the top post.
According to court documents, Gordon allegedly used county equipment and personnel for personal projects, as well as for other citizens and a coworker.
Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Detective Travis Lanning reported in his affidavit that on July 20, six waste management employees filed a complaint against Gordon for allegedly using county equipment and labor to move a ranch cabin to his property, store insulation from a riding arena in Bondurant, help a rancher put in power and improve his own private property.
Pat Johnson, Timothy “Jesse” Woolbright and Julius “Brian” Smith signed the complaint against Gordon, records show, along with Lisa Forman, Jacinda Ralston and Delfino Andres.
Gordon also reportedly purchased an impact wrench kit that was not available to employees, it states.
On July 3, Gordon asked commissioners about his upcoming budget and if he could move “Jesse” from part-time to full-time. He was told a full-time employee was in the budget, which wasn’t completed yet.
During the SCSO investigation July 23 to July 25, Johnson reported that Gordon was at his brother’s place in a county truck, that Gordon would take another employee to help him with personal projects, that he never saw an impact wrench used at the landfill and that Gordon took the skid-steer for a long period when Johnson said it was “really needed,” records show.
The first misdemeanor count alleges that in September 2016, Gordon used county employees’ labor and time, according to court documents.
Woolbright said that was when he helped Gordon at a LaBarge Creek ranch for a private “powerline project on company time,” according to Lanning’s affidavit.
The second misdemeanor count alleges that last November, Gordon made use of a county truck, gooseneck trailer and a skid-steer “with intent to temporarily deprive the owner (the county) of its use and benefit.”
Gordon allegedly used the county equipment to move a cabin from the Barney Ranch to his property and took an employee to help fix a backhoe boom on company time in November 2016, court records show.
He also used the county equipment to clear his driveway after a big snow storm and brought it back to the landfill after being told it was needed there, the affidavit states.
“Johnson stated that the stickers and marking on the skid-steer had been taped over by Gordon,” Lanning wrote.
The third charge says in April and May, Gordon allegedly used a county truck, gooseneck trailer, 906 loader and public employees’ labor and time.
Gordon allegedly took a county employee and equipment in April or May to help coworker Smith move his belongings “down from LaBarge Creek” where his old residence was located, the affidavit says.
Woolbright told Lanning he had helped Gordon put skirting on and railroad ties underneath his trailer, and Gordon had the county skid-steer with “tape to cover the emblems” on it, records show.
The fourth count alleges wrongful use of public employee labor and time in June for Gordon’s personal use, according to the court records.
Woolbright and others stated that in June, he went to Bondurant to help Gordon tear down a blue barn with an arena on company time with an impact wrench purchased for $445 on the waste management account.
When insulation was brought from the Bondurant barn to the landfill, Gordon allegedly set it aside and asked employees to pack about 10 bales in county bags for his personal use, according to Lanning’s interview with Johnson.
He removed them from the landfill on July 27 with his own truck and trailer, Johnson told Lanning.
On July 27, Lankford told Lanning that Gordon sent an email to her and county commissioners requesting a week’s vacation and an executive meeting about “the mess I have my self in,” records show.
“I am no flight risk,” Gordon wrote in the email. “… I won’t cause any problems for any one. I really am not a bad person I just get so crushed by everything going on in my world at one time.”
Lanning said he met with Gordon on July 27 and that “Gordon stated he ‘surely in fact did use county equipment’” to help Smith move his belongings, move a cabin to his property, assist with a ranch “powerline project” and move snow for four or five hours at his place last November.
The affidavit states Gordon called Lanning back the next day to add he also took Woolbright and the impact gun to the Bondurant arena and included “chains and boomers” as other borrowed equipment.
Gordon worked for Sublette County waste management for nine years, including the time former supervisor Clingman was ultimately fired, tried and sentenced to prison.
Gordon’s arraignment is set for Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. in Circuit Court. Each of the misdemeanors is punishable by maximum terms of one year in jail, fines of up to $1,000 or both.