On Monday, Jan. 29 at the Third District Court at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Kemmerer, Judge Joseph Bluemel sentenced Kemmerer resident Douglas J. Fonnesbeck on two counts of concealment of stolen property relating to the June 2017 burglary of the Smokehouse in Diamondville.
Fonnesbeck was sentenced to 90 days of jail time in the Lincoln County Jail, with credit for 11 days already served, as well as a supervised probation period of three years.
He pleaded guilty with no contest to the two criminal counts, acknowledging that between June 29 and July 7 of 2017, he concealed both an antique cash register and two miner’s helmets from the Smokehouse that he knew were obtained in violation of the law.
“I don’t want you to set yourself up to fail; I want you to be successful,” Judge Bluemel told Fonnesbeck after he accepted the plea agreement. “You need to choose your friends well, and you need to start anew, so let’s move forward.”
Blaine Nelson, Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney for Lincoln County, told the Gazette after the sentencing that Gregory Black, who is suspected of the actual Smokehouse burglary, will be extradited to Lincoln County sometime in February. Black is being held in custody in Utah. Judge Bluemel read from the pre-sentence investigation reports filed by the Diamondville Police stating that Fonnesbeck sold the antique cash register and miner’s helmets to the Sandy Antique Mall in Sandy, Utah, after he knew they were obtained illegally.
“The items stolen, including the cash register, have sentimental value to the victim Jere Borino, but also have monetary value,” Nelson said. “We are lucky and thankful to have secured the recovery of those items.”
The cash register is worth more than $1,000, making its theft and concealment a felony. Usually, the maximum penalty for a felony is a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. But Fonnesbeck entered into a plea agreement with attorney Scott Sargent and the state to treat the felony charge under Wyoming state statute 7-13-301, because Fonnesbeck does not have a prior felony charge. The sentencing doesn’t punish the accused with the full extent of a felony, which would include an extended jail sentence, as well as losing the right to vote or register a firearm.
“This agreement requires specific punishments that are not small consequences,” Nelson said. “But it also avoids a long felony sentence. Fonnesbeck is a young man and has a long life ahead of him.”
Bluemel reminded Fonnesbeck that his probation started immediately following the sentencing, and that he needed to report to the Lincoln County Jail before the morning of Monday, Feb. 5, to start his jail sentence. Fonnesbeck may not leave Wyoming without filing certain paperwork, but Judge Bluemel said that his probation can transfer to another state.
“The items were recovered, and we’re not seeking restitution from Fonnesbeck,” Nelson said. “We will seek damage restitution from Mr. Black because of damage done to the Smokehouse building door during the burglary.”
Nelson said the state and local law enforcement officers had started their investigation with the theory that Fonnesbeck was the primary suspect in the burglary, but have now accused and arrested Gregory Black on the charges of the actual burglary of the Smokehouse building on Diamondville Avenue.
Nelson thanked local law enforcement officers for their efforts on behalf of Jere Borino, owner of the Smokehouse, who was present at the sentencing.
“Doug recently received a job offer in Florida, and he realizes that getting out of Kemmerer and starting over is probably best for him,” Fonnesbeck’s attorney Scott Sargent said. “This plea agreement gives him the opportunity to do that.”
Fonnesbeck told Judge Bluemel, “I need to get back to being a dad. I really need this job opportunity and a new start.”
“I think the plea agreement is reasonable, and the court will accept it,” Judge Bluemel said. “Mr. Fonnesbeck clearly understands the charges and the consequences of his crimes.”
Bluemel encouraged Fonnesbeck to obey the rules of his probation and seek full-time employment after serving his jail sentence.
Follow the Gazette for more updates about the upcoming court proceedings concerning Mr. Black, the suspect accused of burglarizing the Smokehouse.