Subscribe for 17¢ / day

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Natrona County District Attorney Kevin Meenan will remain in his job despite being charged with misusing a $55,000 insurance settlement for his stepdaughter and misusing a credit card, his attorney said Wednesday.

"You might say, you only have so much energy. You only have so much focus. I don't think that's a problem," Buffalo attorney Greg Goddard said. "And if it becomes a problem, I know Kevin will do whatever is in the best interests of the people of this community."

Meenan, who faces 10 felonies and a misdemeanor, stood silently with his wife, Deann, behind Goddard during a news conference at the county courthouse. Three of their children stood nearby.

Meenan, of Casper, is charged with five counts of forgery and one count each of larceny by bailee, unauthorized use of personal identifying information, writing a false statement to gain credit, obtaining property by false pretenses and unlawful use of a credit card. All are felonies.

Each of the felonies except one is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Writing a false statement to obtain credit is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Meenan also is charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $5,000, for allegedly serving as a lawyer for his stepdaughter while also serving as district attorney.

He is free on his own recognizance and has been ordered not to leave the Wyoming-Montana area. No date has been set for his preliminary hearing.

Goddard, a former Johnson County prosecutor, said the allegations deal with family financial matters only.

"I don't think this is a case that should have been filed," he said. "I think it's a private family matter that's been resolved within the family. … There are no allegations regarding Kevin's position as district attorney."

"There's not somebody out there holding the bag. There's not a credit card company that hasn't been paid," he said.

The charges were filed by Casper attorney Frank Chapman, who was appointed by Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank as special assistant attorney general to handle the case.

According to an affidavit signed by Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Forrest Williams, Meenan represented his stepdaughter, Micah Kahler, after a 1995 car accident in which she severely injured her head and shoulder and obtained a settlement. She was 16 at the time.

Kahler said that Meenan, who has been county prosecutor since 1986, twice misrepresented the amount of the settlement to her, first saying it was $20,000 and later $40,000, according to the affidavit. In fact, the amount was $55,000, it said.

The affidavit said the $55,000 was deposited in Meenan's trust account in a Casper bank.

Meenan is also charged with obtaining a Chase Manhattan credit card in the name of his stepson, Ryan Kahler, by forging Kahler's signature.

At the news conference, Micah read a statement on behalf of herself and Ryan saying they were shocked by the charges.

"We never asked for charges to be filed. Neither of us has lost anything or been hurt financially by Kevin," she said. "It serves no useful purpose. It should be ended now. We love Kevin very much."

Goddard said Meenan is being held to a higher standard.

"I don't think these charges would have been filed and I don't think they would have been filed in the fashion they were filed if he had been an ordinary citizen," he said.

Goddard also said he does not believe Meenan violated the law prohibiting district attorneys from simultaneous private practice.

"Judicial ethics allow you to handle private family matters, such as wills, so it's not uncommon for that to happen," he said.

In 1996, Meenan finished fifth in a nine-way race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, which was won by Mike Enzi.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

0
0
0
0
0