Charges against Thiesse in Lander museum larceny case sent to District Court; Charge against Spriggs dismissed

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts this afternoon dismissed a charge of Accessory Before the Fact against Joseph E. Spriggs, 65, in connection to an alleged Larceny by Bailee charge against former Pioneer Museum Director Carol Thiesse.

After nearly three hours of testimony in a preliminary hearing on Wednesday afternoon, Roberts said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to find probable cause that Spriggs assisted in any larceny.

However, Roberts did bind the charges of Larceny by Bailee and Intellectual Property Destruction against Thiesse over to the Ninth District Court in Lander. Roberts said sufficient evidence was presented by Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett that would lead a reasonable person to believe Thiesse committed the crimes. That is all that’s needed in a preliminary hearing for felony charges.

Thiesse’s case will be sent to District Court, where she will be arraigned and enter a plea.

Spriggs’s attorney Bill Miller during his cross examination of Lander Police Det. Randy Lutterman made it clear that the state had no evidence that showed Spriggs knowingly aided Thiesse in any larceny. There was video surveillance that showed Spriggs dismantling a number of the 99 alleged stolen interpretations. However, in his decision to dismiss the aiding and abetting charge, Roberts said nothing in evidence showed that Spriggs’s actions were outside of his normal duties. Roberts also noted that if the state had shown evidence that the removal of the interpretations occurred at times outside of regular work hours might have changed his mind.

With regard to Thiesse, what her attorney Tim Kingston spent time working on is what value the interpretations might have for his client. He argued that they couldn’t be valued at the amount that they were created but needed to be valued at what it was worth at the time it went missing. He also attempted to argue that Thiesse wouldn’t have a use for the interpretations once they were in her possession.

Roberts said Bennett and Lutterman showed enough evidence that she had motive to remove that and that her ‘use’ of the interpretations would solely be to deprive the county of the assets. He also said the interpretation do have a value when in use in the museum. There is just no market value for them outside of the museum.

For additional background on the case, see this story.