Former fire chief sentenced
December 23, 2020
By DAVID MARTIN
The final chapter in the court case against former Green River Fire Department Chief Mike Nomis concluded Thursday after an argued sentencing hearing.
Nomis plead guilty to felony theft and misdemeanor wrongful appropriation of public property during a change of plea hearing Sept. 8. He was sentenced to between three and seven years in the Wyoming Penitentiary for the felony charge, one year in jail to be served concurrently with the felony change for the misdemeanor count and ordered to pay $60,304.74 in restitution and finds by Third District Court Judge Suzannah Robinson during the argued sentencing hearing.
Michelle Hall, the lead investigator from the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, told the court Nomis had reportedly violated a no contact order that was part of his bond conditions. She said Assistant Fire Chief Larry Erdmann reported that he was approached by Nomis during a visit to Smith’s Food and Drug, where he said Nomis attempted to convince Erdmann and the other assistant chief, Bill Robinson, to contact Green River City Administrator to get Nomis’ job back. According to the city’s human resources director Cari Kragovich, Nomis voluntarily left his job June 30.
Questions regarding a barn that had been placed on land owned by Nomis were also raised during the hearing.
Hall said the barn was mentioned during a family visit with Nomis’ wife, Stephanie, at the Sweetwater County Detention Center. County prosecutors also mentioned Nomis had bought a new truck earlier in the year.
Robinson was called as a witness later in the hearing. Aside from being an assistant fire chief, he is also the secretary of the firefighter’s foundation. Robinson said Nomis contacted him after his arrest, claiming he was very remorseful and claimed Nomis said “he got in over his head.”
Robinson also said there were people at the fire department Nomis wanted to get rid of, saying they were harming him and the fire department, but those people were not fired as their were no grounds outside of the investigation into Nomis’ activities that would have given cause for those terminations. Robinson also said he knew of firefighters questyioning Nomis of expendatures.
“He would get upset about it ... he would get verbally upset about it,” Robinson said.
He said these questions were posed before Nomis’ arrest, saying Nomis would be upset with the people asking about expenditures, but never turned over financial documents related to the foundation funds.
Victim impact statements were also read during the hearing, all of them coming from employees of the fire department.
Multiple firefighters provided written statements through the county attorney’s office, with some opting to speak at the hearing. Many spoke about how Nomis’ actions harmed the community’s trust in them, with some being questioned on and off duty about money missing from the firefighters’ foundation. All of them recommended the maximum sentence allowable for Nomis’ crimes.
“It takes a certain type of person to be a firefighter. I question if you ever were that person,” Tom Madura said to Nomis.
Other defended Nomis, citing his long career saving lives as a firefighter as reason for leniency.
John Wagner, a longtime friend of Nomis’ from Laramie, said Nomis is the kind of person who would pay back his restitution.
“Mike is left with his own actions and he’s aware of that,” he said. “He next to broken, that’s a hard place to be.”
Nomis had a chance to address the court as well, sobbing as he spoke.
“I’m truly sorry for everything that I’ve done, the damage that I caused and the people I hurt,” Nomis said.
Judge Robinson, when issuing her sentence, said the issue was difficult to judge because Nomis didn’t have a criminal history and had a history of public service, through she said he also abused his position of trust and took money donated by other firefighters and the community.
“When community leaders commit crimes in Sweetwater County, people need to know they will be punished,” she said.
Allegations regarding Nomis spending money in the Green River Fire Department Foundation accounts were raised late last year after county investigators served warrants for financial records kept at the fire department and the city.
Representatives of the city declined to comment, citing a recommendation from City Attorney Galen West.