- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Gov. Matt Mead is directing the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to take legal action to remove Campbell County Sheriff Bill Pownall from office following a state investigation into an allegation that he tried to suppress his son’s arrest on a drunken driving charge.

Addressing reporters Thursday at the state Capitol in Cheyenne, Mead said he received a complaint Wednesday from the Campbell County Commission against Pownall.

The Gillette News-Record reported Wednesday (https://bit.ly/1vPr5mr ) that Campbell County Attorney Jeani Stone said the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation had investigated Pownall.

The agency probed an allegation that Pownall pressured deputies to drop a drunken driving charge against his 23-year-old son, Seth Pownall, in August and change it to a charge of being a pedestrian under the influence. Stone recently refiled a drunken driving charge against Seth Pownall.

Mead said state law gives the sheriff 20 days to respond once the AG’s Office files its complaint against him in Campbell County District Court.

An attempt to reach the sheriff was unsuccessful Thursday morning.

Mead, a former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, had worked in Campbell County as a prosecutor early in his career. He said he’s known Pownall for decades and had supported his nomination this year when he was named peace officer of the year.

“He’s had a remarkable career in law enforcement, so I supported his nomination and was glad to do that,” Mead said.

However, Mead said he very troubled by the DCI report about Pownall. “It’s an unhappy situation, but I feel like I’ve seen enough in the complaint and the law enforcement material that I feel like that is my obligation to do that,” he said.

Mead said a special prosecutor could be appointed to consider whether to pursue potential criminal violations. Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael was unavailable for comment Thursday, his office said.

Pownall already was set to leave office at the end of December when his third term expires. He was elected Tuesday to a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

Stone said it isn’t clear how the investigation may affect Pownall’s House seat.

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