Ex-WYDOT employee jailed for thefts from department

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A former Wyoming Department of Transportation supervisor will serve 10 days in jail and four years of supervised probation for stealing more than $3,000 worth of items from the department between 2008 and 2013. Most significantly, Louis “Alan” Kousoulos used his WYDOT position to buy nearly $2,280 worth of zip ties for his new house.

Kousoulos, 62, pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor counts of theft on Friday, bringing an end to a case that dragged out for five-and-a-half years.

As part of a plea deal, Park County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Skoric agreed to defer his prosecution of the felony charge. As long as Kousoulos successfully completes the probation, the felony count theft will be dismissed and only the misdemeanor (which was reduced from a felony) will remain on the Cody resident’s record. Theft can be treated as a felony crime whenever the value of the stolen property tops $1,000.

“The parties have gone back and forth; there’s been investigation on both sides,” said Casper attorney Ian Sandefer, who represented Kousoulos. “And the agreement that we came up with, I believe, your honor, is a fair agreement in this particular case.”

District Court Judge Bobbi Overfield of Thermopolis, who joined the bench just last month, approved the deal.

Kousoulos received a 180-day sentence, with 170 days suspended, plus four years of supervised probation. He must also pay $445 in court assessments and fees plus $3,020.14 in restitution to WYDOT.

Judge Overfield offered Kousoulos an opportunity to address the court on Friday, but he declined.

District Court Judge Bill Simpson of Cody normally hears all local criminal cases, but he had a conflict: Simpson served as Kousoulos’ initial defense attorney when the case was filed years ago.

The changes in attorneys — Kousoulos switched from Simpson to then-public defender Nick Beduhn of Cody before later hiring Sandefer — was one reason why the case developed so slowly.

Court records indicate that the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the Wyoming Highway Patrol first began investigating in early May 2013. That’s when a WYDOT worker reported that Kousoulos had been using his supervisory position to order items for himself, while pretending the purchases were for WYDOT. The mechanic, who was supervised by Kousoulos, said Kousoulos had also taken some items from the department’s shop in Cody.

DCI agents ultimately had the mechanic place a recorded phone call to Kousoulos in which the man told Kousoulos that WYDOT’s district equipment supervisor was asking questions about a large number of zip ties that had been ordered; according to the mechanic, Kousoulos was using the ties to help build a house on Cody’s 29th Street.

On the recorded call, “Kousoulos told [the mechanic] not to say anything,” then-DCI Special Agent Chad Glick wrote in a later affidavit, adding, “Kousoulos went on to tell [the mechanic] to do like he always has and to ‘play stupid.’” Kousoulos said he planned to take the leftover zip ties and “throw them upstairs before they see them,” the affidavit says.

However, about 10 minutes later, DCI agents and a trooper from the Wyoming Highway Patrol executed a search warrant at Kousoulos’ home.

They found and seized a $513 hydraulic cylinder (which had been bought in 2008, supposedly for a WYDOT road grader), a $163.42 steel I-beam, a $64 snow shovel and numerous zip ties.

DCI Agent Darrell Steward tallied up the number of plastic zip ties that were visible in the unfinished basement of Kousoulos’ home, counting 551 ties being used to secure rebar to concrete forms, according to the affidavit.

All told, agent Glick learned that Kousoulos had purchased $2,279.42 worth of zip ties in October 2012 — including certain types that WYDOT never used.

After law enforcement officers searched the 29th Street site, Kousoulos stopped by the mechanic’s home.

Not knowing his co-worker had given him up, “Kousoulos told [the mechanic] that he was probably going to lose his job and wanted [the mechanic] to ‘play stupid,’” reportedly asking the mechanic to mislead investigators about the zip ties, Glick wrote.

Although Glick’s affidavit indicates that the investigation generally wrapped up in June 2013, charges weren’t filed for another two years, in June 2015. Skoric has said part of the delay was due to white collar criminal cases being a lower priority.

In the meantime, Kousoulos — who’d been with WYDOT since 1991 — worked for five more months before retiring in September 2013. He’s since come out of retirement and is working in North Dakota, according to his attorney.

While on probation, Kousoulos will be allowed to continue traveling to and working in North Dakota.

“Certainly, the state doesn’t want to interfere with that,” Skoric said in court Friday.

The terms of Kousoulos’ probation will require him to maintain a full-time job, obey the law, obey all the rules and regulations set by his probation agent and, among other conditions, to make regular payments toward his restitution.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors did not pursue restitution for a motor and trailer axle, which were of uncertain value.

Kousoulos may be best known in Wyoming for his unsuccessful run for governor in the 2010 Republican primary. Kousoulos told the Casper Star-Tribune at the time that, as a shop supervisor for WYDOT in Cody, he regularly saw areas where the state could save money.

He wound up receiving 0.5 percent of the vote across the state, finishing a distant fifth out of seven candidates in a race won by future Gov. Matt Mead.

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