Wyoming digest

Sep 13, 2017 From wire reports

Lawmakers to consider 'tourist tax'

BUFFALO (AP) -- Legislators will consider a bill to levy a 1 percent tax on all hospitality-related businesses in Wyoming, with that revenue earmarked to fund the state tourism office.

The Joint Revenue Committee agreed on Tuesday to consider the tax bill at its December meeting.

Tourism officials presented a slightly different plan to the committee that would levy the tax on only the two tax-classification groups covering hotels, bars, restaurants and arts and recreation businesses.

The tax revenue would make the Wyoming Office of Tourism self-sufficient as it would replace about $13 million the agency receives from the Legislature each year.

Tourism officials say any additional funding the office might receive from the tax would be directed toward national and international marketing.

Judge orders murder hearing closed

CHEYENNE (AP) -- A judge has decided to close the preliminary hearing in a Wyoming case involving a man accused of murder and sexual abuse of a minor.

Albany County Circuit Court Judge Robert Castor issued the ruling Tuesday in Cheyenne to keep the press and public out of the preliminary hearing and court documents in the case.

Castor says if the case is bound over to District Court for trial, the case files and proceedings will be open to the public.

Castor's decision follows a Wyoming Tribune Eagle appeal and subsequent order by Judge Catherine Rogers to reconsider a previous Circuit Court ruling to close the case.

Public defender Diane Lozano argued "inflammatory" media coverage could lead to a biased jury and unfair trial.

Bank robber gets 30-year term

CHEYENNE (AP) -- An Idaho man who robbed a bank in southwestern Wyoming has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice says 60-year-old Donald Sample, of Pocatello, Idaho, was sentenced Sept. 5 and was ordered to pay nearly $180,000 in restitution.

On June 1, 2013, Sample robbed the Wyochem Federal Credit Union in Green River of $175,300, which is the largest single loss in Wyoming history.

Prosecutors say he brandished a firearm and forced the teller to empty the vault.

Sample, also known as Donald Alexander Sheriff, was arrested shortly after a similar bank robbery in Afton.

He was labeled an armed career criminal based on his conviction for 10 prior bank robberies between 1982 and 1989. Sample was released from his 1989 prison sentence on 2008.

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