- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Rep. Bill Pownall, who resigned as Campbell County sheriff last year amid allegations he influenced a drunken-driving investigation of his son, criticized the motive and actions of the former county attorney in her dealing with his sheriff’s office and son.

Former Campbell County Attorney Jeani Stone replied that she was just doing her job.

Pownall’s comments about Stone came in an email to the Casper Star-Tribune that addressed the August 2014 arrest of his adult son, Seth Pownall.

The case against the younger Pownall was dismissed last month because of lack of reasonable suspicion, said Johnson County Attorney Tucker Ruby, who served as special prosecutor in the case.

According to a Division of Criminal Investigation report, Pownall asked a deputy to change the ticket from driving under the influence to intoxicated pedestrian. Pownall told DCI investigators it was not an order, and there would be no repercussions if the deputy didn’t change the citation. The deputy changed it, but the younger Pownall was ultimately charged with DUI.

A special prosecutor reviewed records in the case and concluded that while the elder Pownall’s actions were foolish and diminish confidence in public officials, they did not violate the law.

Pownall, R-Gillette, blamed Stone, whose office originally prosecuted the case, for ignoring pertinent information when she filed DUI charges.

“The former County Attorney, Jeannie (sic) Stone, had a long and I believe personal history of groundless problems with my office; she singlehandedly turned over the investigation of my actions to the Governor, the County Commissioners, the Division of Criminal Investigation, and several special prosecutors, none of whom determined unlawful activity,” Pownall said in the email to the Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1LydWsg). “It should not go unmentioned that Ms. Stone used the considerable power of her office to try and accomplish what I feel was also a personal quest.”

Stone, who now is a deputy district attorney in Campbell County, said she was fulfilling her responsibility as county attorney.

“No matter whether you’re the sheriff or whoever in town, you don’t get special treatment when it comes to the county attorney’s office,” she said in an interview Monday.

Stone said she presented information to the county commissioners about the case. Together, they wrote a letter to Gov. Matt Mead, who directed the Wyoming Attorney General to begin proceedings to remove Pownall. Pownall later resigned after 12 years as sheriff.

“I was doing my job,” Stone said.

Pownall was elected to his first House term in November. He wrote in his email he regretted his actions, but since his son was cleared of the DUI charge, his instincts were correct.

“I express regret for my actions in becoming involved in any way with the DUI arrest,” he said. “Although my former duties as sheriff included the duty to supervise actions by any and all of the deputies and other employees under my command, and I felt the arrest was not warranted, I should not have done so when a family member of mine was involved, and I resigned my office because I felt it was the right thing to do.”


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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