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Man pleads guilty to involvement in drug death linked to former Casper doctor

A Massachusetts man linked to a former Casper doctor admitted Thursday to involvement in the drug-linked death of another person.

Paul E. Beland, of Oxford, Massachusetts, entered guilty pleas in federal court to three felonies: participating in a drug conspiracy that resulted in the death of another person and two counts of an unlawful use of a communication facility, according to court documents.

A written plea agreement in the case was filed under court seal, making it inaccessible to the public. A prosecutor’s statement was likewise filed under seal.

Prosecutors have alleged that over the course of 2016 Beland wired about $10,000 to Shakeel Kahn, the former Casper doctor, in exchange for prescription anti-anxiety and pain-relieving drugs. Beland flew from Massachusetts to Casper, where he would fill prescriptions written by Kahn.

In September 2016, Beland visited Wyoming to pick up drugs. When Beland parked his rental car at a Casper hotel, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents put a tracking device on the vehicle, according to court documents.

On Oct. 1 and 2, 2016, Beland filled prescriptions for 480 oxycodone pills and 120 methadone tablets, according to the documents.

Beland took the rental car to Casper/Natrona County Airport on Oct. 2, where he was arrested by Natrona County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

By late October, a phone tap indicated Beland was requesting drugs from Kahn again, this time with a straw buyer.

The court documents did not provide details of the drug-related death that Beland pleaded guilty to being involved in.

Kahn is facing 49 charges in federal court in relation to the case. His wife, Lyn Kahn, is facing 22 charges. They each face three counts alleging they were involved in drug conspiracy resulting in death.

Kahn’s name is also sometimes spelled Khan in court documents.

City Council to discus partial closure of Fort Caspar

Deciding the fate of Fort Caspar won’t be easy for the city, officials say.

Casper’s leaders are currently weighing the pros and cons of seasonal closures at the regional history museum. Doing so would save about $167,000, annually but many residents are concerned that the facility’s overall quality would rapidly decline as a result.

“I know there is quite a bit of passion behind [keeping the museum open year-round] and I get where they are coming from,” said Mayor Ray Pacheco.

The City Council will be discussing the issue during Tuesday’s work session. The mayor said he’s hoping to find a middle-ground solution that will permit the museum to stay open full time while also cutting back on its spending.

The city is trying to decrease expenditures in order to reduce its reliance on state funding.

Wyoming’s local governments have limited means of raising funds, which leaves them largely dependent on appropriations from the state Legislature. Local leaders are subsequently uncertain about the level of funding they can expect to receive from year to year.

“In light of the financial times we are facing, it’s really critical that we look at every opportunity we have to address short falls and cost recovery,” City Manager Carter Napier said Monday.

The seasonal closure would last from Nov. 1 to April 30. Seventy-six percent of the museum’s foot traffic occurs outside of this time frame.

About 50 residents voiced objections to the possibility of a partial closure during a meeting about the museum’s future held at the facility last month.

Many of those who spoke explained that museum staff uses the slower season to maintain the property, care for artifacts and create new exhibits. Without new exhibits, some argued that visitors would stop coming and the museum would eventually close down entirely.

About a dozen residents recently submitted letters to the city manager’s office urging the city to keep the museum open year round.

“Museums bring in tourists who then spend money in restaurants, hotels and retail shops,” states a letter from Patti Finkle. “Perhaps instead of closing the museum, the city should invest in it and use it as a way to bring in more tourists and thus generate more income.”

Explaining that “hundreds of school children” visit the facility from across the state, a letter from Carolyn Buff asked city leaders to preserve the museum for the state’s students.

If seasonal closures do take effect, Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cortez said Monday that he will try to limit any negative effects.

“We will have to dig deep and be creative,” he said. “We will see what the Council wants to do and go from there.”

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune 

Doors of Fort Caspar are locked in order to keep snowdrifts from coming in doors Thursday afternoon, Feb. 8, 2018.

Homeless man accused of assaulting police officer

A Wyoming man was arrested Saturday morning after trying to grab a Casper Police officer’s gun and threatening to kill him, authorities say.

Travis M. Maddox, 52, was arrested on suspicion of interference with a police officer following the incident. He was being held in Natrona County Detention Center on Monday morning.

Police encountered Maddox after a woman called 911 and said her neighbors were fighting. An officer arrived at an open door to the apartment in question, where he saw three people and one bleeding from the ear, according to court documents.

When the officer tried pulling Maddox out of the apartment, Maddox swung at him. The two began to scuffle and Maddox grabbed the officer’s gun with both hands, documents state.

Two more police officers then arrived and jumped into the fray, the documents indicate.

At some point during the fight, Maddox threatened to kill the officers, according to police.

The first officer punched Maddox in the face. His backup was then able to arrest Maddox, the documents state.

The bleeding person later told police he did not want to press charges against Maddox. He declined medical attention.

The officer was left with a swollen left cheek.