A Park County prosecutor who serves in the state Legislature was fired from his job last month after sending a series of profane and belittling texts to a woman being prosecuted by his office.
In the text messages, then-Deputy Park County Attorney Sam Krone of Cody appears to taunt the woman about her pending charge for driving while under the influence of alcohol — asking if she plans to tell her grandson “that Grandma is going back to jail” — and mocks her for past relationships she’s had.
“Its awesome that you have a boyfriend that doesnt know all that sh—. And you supported Steve Simonton over me,” Krone wrote in one unpunctuated message, referring to a Cody attorney who ran for the state House against him in 2010. Krone concluded that text by saying, “Dont f— with me. Ever”
In a Wednesday interview with the Tribune, Krone acknowledged he’d sent inappropriate messages and said he’d lost his temper.
“I just feel like the situation was very unfortunate,” he said. “I made mistakes, and I’m sorry for those.”
Krone stressed that he’d had no involvement in prosecuting the woman, who he’d known for years.
The text message exchange occurred late on a Sunday night in mid-December, but the woman — who’d initially been unsure about whether to do anything about the texts — said they weren’t brought to the attention of the Park County Attorney’s Office until Friday, Feb. 19.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, while Krone was serving in the Legislature in Cheyenne, he said he got an email from Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric telling him that he’d been fired.
Krone had served with the office for 12 years.
Skoric would not comment on the circumstances of Krone’s departure or confirm that he was fired, citing state laws that generally make information about government employees’ conduct confidential.
After the Tribune obtained a copy of the text messages and asked Skoric to comment on their content, he called the messages “disgusting.”
“I can look at those and say it’s absolutely despicable conduct,” Skoric said. “The entire subject matter offends me, the language offends me and the fact that she was a represented defendant — and not in any particular order.”
Wyoming’s Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys generally prohibit lawyers from communicating with defendants who have an attorney; the Wyoming State Bar is responsible for investigating any violations of those rules.
The DWUI case against the woman has now been turned over to a special prosecutor from outside of Park County.
“The whole thing’s inexcusable,” Skoric said.
Krone said he had some drinks the night he sent the messages, “but I don’t think that that played into it. I think that was just the nature of the communication.”
Krone and the woman had been friends for years, but saw little of each other between 2010 and last year.
They talked about possibly hanging out one day last August, but ultimately did not meet.
The woman ended up being pulled over by Powell police and arrested on an allegation that she had driven while under the influence of alcohol — which would be her second offense in 10 years.
The woman contacted Krone and asked if he could fix things. By both their accounts, Krone provided no help.
“I would never influence a case like that,” Krone said.
Krone said he didn’t speak to anyone about the woman’s case after she asked for help — which he now says was actually his big mistake.
“When she reached out to me, I should have told Bryan (Skoric) ... and I didn’t,” Krone said, adding, “That’s my bad.”
At the time, Krone said he didn’t think it was a big deal, because a different deputy was prosecuting the case.
Plus, “When you work in Cody, Wyoming, and you’re a prosecutor, you prosecute a lot of people you know,” he said, adding, “It really is hard to separate those relationships out.”
After late August, the two didn’t communicate again until the night of Sunday, Dec. 13, they both said.
Though he said he no longer has a copy of the texts, Krone says the woman started the conversation with a complaint that Skoric was treating her unfairly in her DWUI case.
“When she contacted me, I should not have responded,” he said.
In contrast, the chain of text messages that the woman provided to the Tribune begins at 10:11 p.m. with Krone asking, “When do you go to jail again?”
The woman said that was the first message and her response suggests she was puzzled by Krone’s question.
“No idea. I haven’t gone to court. Why do you ask?” she wrote.
“Just wondering if you got a deal,” Krone responds.
He’s initially pleasant, but then becomes sarcastic — “Of course things are working out great for you! You are so well respected and loved,” he says in one — and appears to complain that the woman declined to go out with him.
After she gives an explanation for why she hadn’t gone out with Krone, he responds with crude language, mocks her past relationships and questions whether she’s been tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
“Try not to get arrested until your sentencing,” he says at one point.
After some more texts from Krone, the woman eventually says she doesn’t feel a need to defend herself.
“Look in the mirror. Look at things you have done. I don’t judge you or belittle you,” she writes.
Krone then calls her a “f—ing liar” and tells her to “bring it on with me. What have I done?”
He then makes the advisement to not “f— with me.”
Eventually, the woman says Krone won’t hear from her again. He sends additional sexually explicit and demeaning messages, the last at 12:11 a.m.
The two haven’t spoken since.
“I didn’t sleep that night, because that’s horrible,” the woman said of the messages. “You can’t have someone say that to you and just roll over and fall asleep. It doesn’t just ruin your night; it kind of eats on you forever.”
The woman said she later mentioned the Dec. 13 texts to a counselor who — over the course of three sessions — ultimately convinced her to share the messages with someone she trusted.
The woman said she gave them to an attorney friend in mid-February, who gave them to her defense attorney in the DWUI case, who gave them to Skoric.
The Tribune agreed to not use the woman’s name to protect her privacy.
For his part, Krone says there were additional text messages — including where he urged the woman to seek treatment — but “I shouldn’t have responded to her and ... I shouldn’t have lost my temper with her and I should have told Bryan (Skoric) right away that she contacted me.”
Krone said he has no ill will toward the woman and wished her well. He also said he truly enjoyed working for Skoric, whom he praised as “an excellent county attorney,” and “I appreciate what Bryan did.”
Krone now plans to enter private practice.
Park County commissioners — who’ve instituted a hiring freeze — gave Skoric the OK during their Tuesday meeting to fill Krone’s vacant position.
Krone initially declined to speak with the Tribune about the circumstances of his exit at the county attorney’s office, but agreed to do so after being told the paper was moving forward with a story about the texts.
Krone said he has not yet decided whether to file for re-election to the state House. The filing period opens May 12. His current term runs through the end of the year.