News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Meth bust documents tell of cash tricks by defendants
Sep 5, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
It seems in the case of Timothy Pitt, crime truly did not pay.
Court documents indicate the Hudson man accused of selling meth was chronically short on cash.
On every occasion in which he purchased drugs from his suppliers while under law enforcement surveillance, Pitt postponed the transaction to raise more money, came up with less money than he had planned, or both.
Often in debt to his suppliers, court documents detail two tricks he used to keep the drugs flowing despite his money problems.
Pitt, of Hudson, faces federal charges that he conspired to sell methamphetamine and used a minor to do so. Federal prosecutors believe Maria de la Luz Vargas of Green River supplied him with drugs, and she has been charged with the same crimes.
Eight people were arrested in Fremont County for selling or possessing meth within days of Pitt's arrest. Law enforcement used wire taps on four phones to build their cases, and information from that and other surveillance methods are included in affidavits in all of the cases.
The case against Pitt and Vargas involves two minors whose identities are redacted in court documents. The affidavits indicate they worked with Pitt's suppliers.
On May 8, Pitt called one of the unidentified minors and said he wanted eight "hamburgers" delivered May 11.
Half an hour later, the minor called Pitt back. The minor said she spoke with "the guy," and he said Pitt had to repay money he owed before they could give Pitt any more.
The minor told Pitt he needed to pay at least "13," and Pitt said that would not be a problem.
In an affidavit, FBI special agent Paul Swenson stated Pitt used simple numbers in conversations with his suppliers to mean thousands of dollars and "hamburgers" to mean ounces of meth.
The next morning, Pitt called a minor and said he would need more time, until May 12 or 13, to raise the "13,000." Within a few days, he had come up with a ruse to overcome his shortage of funds.
In the afternoon of May 12, Pitt called Travis Fauque and told him about a "great idea" he had. Pitt said he would pay Vargas and the others for the methamphetamine with two $100 bills wrapped around 500 $1 bills instead of the full $13,000.
Phone messages indicate Pitt gave the dealers even less money than that.
Law enforcement on May 13 tailed Vargas's vehicle from south of Lander until it parked in front of Pitt's Hudson residence. There, Pitt entered the vehicle and sat in the rear passenger seat for 40 seconds before getting out and running toward his home.
Fifteen minutes later, Pitt called his girlfriend, Shene Springfield, and said, "All right, it's done." He said it went smoothly and that he only paid them $333.
Swenson stated Pitt received eight ounces of methamphetamine from this deal.
Later than evening, Vargas, on her phone, told her daughter her trip had gone badly because she took "some" to "him," but he only paid her $300. He put $100 on each side of a thick stack of money, which he said was "13,000."
Two hours later, a minor sent Pitt a text message stating, "if u (sic) want to pay part of the money with your truck and the other part with cash that's fine but u HAVE to Pay us....seriously."
Pitt may have gotten the idea for his swindle when nearly the same thing happened to Fauque a month earlier. An affidavit stated Fauque sold methamphetamine for Pitt.
On April 15, Fauque called Pitt and said he had been "ripped off" by "Evelyn on the rez," according to an affidavit from Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Andy Hanson.
Fauque said he gave her four grams of methamphetamine and expected her to give him $1,000. Instead, the woman gave Fauque a $5 bill wrapped around six $1 bills and drove off before he noticed the trick, leaving him holding $11.
Hearing this, Pitt became irritated, the affidavit stated, and told Fauque he owed $1,000. In a call two and a half hours later, Fauque told Pitt he had come up with $200 and was working on raising $200 more.
Pitt told him to bring the $400 to his residence.
Hamburgers and heroin
The angry text message from the May 13 transaction alluded to an earlier gimmick Pitt used when he could not pay what he owed.
According to an affidavit, Pitt told a minor on May 2 he had the "12" they talked about, and that he wanted eight hamburgers and "then what we talked about."
Swenson believed heroin was the second item in Pitt's order.
Two days later, Pitt said he did not have "all of it" because someone had stolen $4,000 from him. He had "eight" though and could put up the title to his truck as collateral. Pitt confirmed the suppliers would come the next day and deliver seven hamburgers.
Just after noon the next day, a minor called Pitt to say they were on their way. The minor spoke with a woman Swenson believes was Vargas and then told Pitt they could accept the title.
Eight minutes later on a call with Springfield, Pitt said he was making a copy of his pickup truck's title to give to his suppliers so they would not have the real one. He only had $8,800 he said.
A surveillance camera saw Vargas drive up to Pitt's residence and observed the man enter the vehicle.
Swenson believes Pitt received seven ounces of meth
The affidavits do not reveal if the suppliers ever discovered the forgery. A week later, Pitt pulled his trick with the decoy cash, and a week after that, on May 22, he was arrested. Vargas was arrested on July 18.
On Aug. 23, federal prosecutors took over their cases on Aug. 23 and both now face life in prison if convicted.