Colorado Man Pleads Guilty in WYDOT Snow Fence Theft Case
Tres Gene Steinhoff of Colorado pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit theft in Albany County District Court Thursday as part of a plea agreement.
On June 12, 2017, an Albany County Sheriff's Deputy was informed by a local property owner of a missing Wyoming Department of Transportation snow fence near U.S. Hwy 287, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The property owner reported having last seen the fence intact in late Dec. 2016.
The property owner's brother reported seeing a red 1990's Nissan SUV drive through the area. The property owner provided a license plate that he discovered later on the ground.
WYDOT officials confirmed no one had been ordered to take the fence and that the adjacent fence had been cut on two separate occasions. They said the fence was valued at more than $2,600.
On July 14, 2017, Loveland police stopped a red 1992 Nissan Pathfinder hauling lumber consistent with the lumber used for a snow fence. The passenger, Tabatha Ann Cobb, who Albany County Prosecutors say also pleaded guilty on an earlier date, matched a description given by the land owner's brother. The driver of the vehicle was Steinhoff. The two were booked into Larimer County Detention Center.
On July 17, 2017, an Albany County Detective found a pry bar on the ground near a torn down section of snow fence at the location of the alleged theft.
The detective interviewed Cobb and Steinhoff later that day at the Larimer County Detention Center where Steinhoff reportedly made contradicting statements about where the trailer came from and whether or not it was already loaded. He told the detective he was selling the wood to a lumber company in Fort Collins, Colo.
Cobb told the detective she, Steinhoff, and two others traveled to Wyoming and spent approximately six hours prying boards off of the snow fence. She said Steinhoff and Cobb's husband made at least three trips to the area. She also confirmed the sale of the wood to Blue Ridge Log Works in Fort Collins.
The owner of Blue Ridge Log Works told the detective he had purchased lumber consistent with that of a snow fence from Steinhoff on four occasions, and provided check stubs of payouts in April and June of 2017.
Steinhoff was charged by Albany County Prosecutors with felony theft and felony conspiracy to commit theft.
In exchange for Steinhoff's plea, the felony theft charge will be dismissed. The agreement included 5 years probation with payment of restitution, but Steinhoff's attorney said they will challenge the restitution.
A sentencing date has yet to be set.