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String of crimes brings prison time for Cody woman

Chelsea Hensley Chelsea Hensley

When Chelsea Hensley appeared in Park County’s Circuit Court in late February, she received the kind of greeting an old friend might expect.

“It’s good to see you again; it hasn’t been long,” said a sarcastic Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters. “And you’ve got a brand new felony information that’s been filed against you.”

Hensley, 29, was there to answer allegations that she flirted with a Hertz employee at the Cody airport so another man could steal one of the company’s rental cars.

At the time of that Feb. 22 auto theft, Hensley was awaiting trials in three other felony cases: two relating to allegations that she passed or helped pass a couple hundred dollars worth of counterfeit currency in early January and another, older case alleging she burglarized a Cody residence two different times in late 2015.

Hensley had been able to make bond on the prior charges — going in and out of the Park County Detention Center three times in January and February.

“The fact is, Ms. Hensley, you are racking up charges, whether they be felony or misdemeanor, at an alarming rate,” Judge Waters said. “You can’t get out for more than a day or two, or a week or two, without racking up a new felony. That suggests that there’s a danger to the community, a danger to yourself, a danger to anybody around you.”

The prosecution asked that Hensley’s bond in the latest case be set at $75,000 cash — substantially more than her past cases — but that recommendation was “not high enough,” Waters said. The judge set bail at $100,000.

Hensley has remained in the Park County Detention Center since then, but she’ll soon be transferred to the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk to serve a three- to five-year prison sentence.

Hensley accepted the prison time as part of a plea deal that resolved all of the pending cases. Under the agreement, she pleaded guilty to three felony counts of burglary, forgery and aiding and abetting theft totaling $1,000 or more. Another four felony counts and a misdemeanor drug possession charge were dismissed.

Caught red-handed

The crimes and investigation started on Nov. 21, 2015, when Cody police were called to New Hope Drive. A citizen there reported coming home to find that someone had broken through the back door with a rock and stolen hundreds of prescription painkillers.

The resident suspected Hensley, and a neighbor told police they saw Hensley and her then-boyfriend, Nickolaus Turechek, pull up to the home around the time of the burglary; police were told that Hensley went around to the back of the house while Turechek stayed in the car, Cody Police Lt. Jason Stafford wrote in an affidavit at the time.

Hensley denied having even gone near the home that day, but on Dec. 4 — roughly two weeks later — Cody police responded to a report of another break-in at the home and found a masked Hensley inside. She had three of the resident’s pill bottles and a plastic pill container in her pockets, Stafford wrote.

Hensley was charged with two counts of burglary. (The charge relating to the Dec. 4 burglary was dismissed as part of the plea deal.)

Police believe they saw Turechek’s vehicle driving through the neighborhood shortly after Hensley’s capture.

“I tried to warn you,” Turechek reportedly said when Hensley called him from jail, adding, “I tried to send you a text.”

Turechek was eventually charged with two counts of aiding and abetting burglary.

The Park County Attorney’s Office obtained a warrant for Turechek’s arrest in mid-December 2015, but authorities were unable to find him.

Meanwhile, Hensley was allowed to go free on her own recognizance while her burglary case was pending.

Fake bills

Court records indicate Hensley planned to take a plea deal in the case, but on Jan. 9 — just three days after District Court Judge Steven Cranfill scheduled Hensley for a change of plea hearing — she reportedly passed $165 in counterfeit bills to buy ice cream at Dairy Queen, pay for her child’s preschool at Christ the King Lutheran Church and buy items at a Good 2 Go convenience store.

Cody Police Officer Josh Van Auken wrote in an affidavit that the counterfeit bills were waxy, did not have a vertical water mark and were cut longer than real $20 bills.

Cody police arrested Hensley on the three forgery charges that day and she posted a $7,500 surety bond on Jan. 20. A couple days later, however, the Park County Attorney’s Office used the new forgery charges to seek the revocation of her bond on the burglary case.

Hensley was rearrested, but on Jan. 25, Judge Cranfill ruled that “no additional monies and/or surety will need to be provided” and ordered that Hensley “be released immediately” from jail.

However, prosecutors soon decided to charge Hensley with another felony count. The charge alleged she helped an “unidentified male” who tried passing a fake $20 bill at a Cody coffee kiosk on Jan. 2.

Hensley was arrested again on Feb. 2, then released again on a $1,000 surety bond Feb. 10.

But it was only a week and a half later that Cody police were summoned to Yellowstone Regional Airport for a report of a stolen vehicle.

A stolen rental car

Police say that Hensley and a different man — identified by police as 26-year-old Christopher Garrison — tried renting a car with a pre-paid debit card and were turned down. According to Hensley, she then “hit on (flirted) with an employee at Hertz because he was very cute,” Van Auken wrote.

However, the Hertz employees later realized that Hensley’s companion — alleged to be Garrison — had exited a side door and made off with a 2016 Toyota Camry that was awaiting a cleaning.

Van Auken said the two Hertz employees agreed that “Hensley was trying to distract them as a decoy so the male could steal the car undetected.”

In late December, Powell police caught Garrison driving a Hertz vehicle that had been stolen from North Dakota; Garrison pleaded not guilty to charges from that case and, at the time of the alleged theft from the Hertz in Cody, he was free on a $10,000 surety bond.

Hours after the theft from Yellowstone Regional Airport, Cody police asked the Park County Sheriff’s Office to look for the stolen Camry at a residence southeast of Cody. The responding deputy didn’t find the stolen vehicle, but did find and arrest Turechek on the 14-month-old warrant from the 2015 burglaries.

Turechek later pleaded not guilty to those charges and was released on an unsecured bond; he’s currently awaiting a trial.

The stolen 2016 Toyota Camry was ultimately recovered at Trapper Village West in Powell.

Meanwhile, hours after Hensley’s Feb. 22 arrest, her boyfriend Michael Rosacci showed up at Yellowstone Regional Airport to look for her. Cody Police Officer Mark Martinez spotted a bong in the vehicle and cited Rosacci for possession of drug paraphernalia. At the time, Rosacci was out on bond on unrelated 2016 charges of delivering methamphetamine and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. In March, he received a three- to five-year prison sentence for those crimes.

Inside Rosacci’s vehicle, officer Martinez also found a makeup compact that held crystal rocks of meth; Rosacci said it was Hensley’s. That led to a misdemeanor possession charge against her that ultimately was dropped as part of the global plea deal.

In accepting the agreement and sentencing Hensley to three to five years in prison, Judge Cranfill recommended that she be entered into the women’s center’s intensive treatment unit.

“You have the best wishes of this court in this next journey in your life,” Cranfill told her last month.

As part of her sentence, Hensley must pay $585 in court fees and assessments, about $360 to the New Hope Drive homeowner for the break-in, $165 to reimburse the businesses to which she gave counterfeit currency, and an as-yet-to-be determined sum for the stolen Camry.

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