Third Defendant Pleads Not Guilty to Three Felony Charges in Cannon Oil & Gas Theft Case

Third Defendant Pleads Not Guilty to Three Felony Charges in Cannon Oil & Gas Theft Case

David Jay Mansfield, Sweetwater County Detention Center photo

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Rock Springs resident David Jay Mansfield pleaded not guilty to three felony counts for his alleged involvement in the theft of Cannon Oil and Gas (CO&G) equipment.

Mansfield appeared in the Third District Court of Judge Suzannah Robinson Thursday morning for an arraignment on one felony charge of conspiracy to commit theft, one felony charge of crimes against intellectual property and one felony charge of crimes against computer users. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If found guilty for all three counts, Mansfield could face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $30,000.

A trial date was scheduled for February 5, 2024, however, Mansfield’s attorney Michael Newman said they do not believe they will be able to prepare a defense by then due to the “voluminous nature” of the case. Robinson told Newman to file a written motion to continue and waive Mansfield’s right to a speedy trial. The speedy trial mentioned is a right a defendant has for a trial to occur within 180 days of their arrangement. Deputy Sweetwater County Attorney Hillary McKinney requested the court leave about a month between Mansfield’s trial and co-defendant Allen Meredith’s trial. Newman prefers Meredith’s trial to be set before Mansfield’s. Robinson said she believes they will be looking at a trial during the summer of 2024 at the earliest.

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According to court documents, the charges stem from incidents occurring between October 2021, and April 2022, in which Mansfield, Meredith and James “Jim” Johnson allegedly conspired to commit theft of thousands of dollars of oilfield equipment from their former employer CO&G. Mansfield and Johnson were both operations managers for the company, while Meredith was general manager for more than 39 years.

Meredith’s arraignment took place May 19, in which he pleaded not guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy to commit theft, one felony charge of theft, one felony charge of crimes against computer users, and one felony charge of crimes against intellectual property. Johnson pleaded not guilty to one felony charge of conspiracy to commit theft, and one felony charge of crimes against computer users on August 10.

The Situation

According to court documents, Andrea Wilkinson, CO&G’s general manager, was informed March 28, 2022 that Meredith resigned from CO&G two days prior. Mansfield and Johnson both quit their jobs with CO&G within a few days of Meredith’s resignation. It was later discovered that Meredith was starting his own company called Mountain West Energy Services (MWES), along with both Mansfield and Johnson.

According to the affidavit, Meredith, Johnson, and Mansfield had a meeting March 27, 2022, at the MWES property located at 102 Foothill Blvd., in Rock Springs, in which they allegedly tried to recruit CO&G employees to join MWES. Between 15 to 20 employees quit to join Meredith’s new business. According to the affidavit, Meredith was considering purchasing CO&G after the passing of former owner Richard Canon. Wilkinson said Meredith had allegedly signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement with CO&G, stating he would not target CO&G employees or its customers.

The affidavit states Meredith allegedly provided the private emails between himself and Wilkinson regarding buying CO&G to Mansfield.

Court documents state Wilkinson said it appeared CO&G was missing approximately $75,000 worth of equipment, including missing pipe tongs, pipe racks, drill line, blow out prevention supplies, and bales. Wilkinson reported that some of the employees who attended the meeting March 27, 2022 said they saw equipment on Meredith’s property that was similar to CO&G’s missing items.

During the investigation, Meredith allegedly admitted that neither Wilkinson or Elaine Canon, part owner of CO&G, knew he had moved pipe bins found on his property from CO&G property at Wamsutter. The affidavit states Mansfield was one of four key holders who had access to the storage buildings where the items were allegedly taken from.

Meredith allegedly admitted to detectives that he had CO&G equipment and personal property that belonged to Richard Canon on MWES property without CO&G’s knowledge, and that he had the equipment transported in March of 2022.

Additionally, the affidavit states Mansfield allegedly authorized for the shutoff of GPS tracking on the CO&G trucks to be shut off while he, Meredith, and Johnson were still employed by CO&G.

Mansfield’s Alleged Involvement

According to the affidavit, Mansfield’s alleged involvement includes turning off the GPS tracking ability on the CO&G trucks around the time that Meredith started planning his new business, authorizing the cloning of CO&G’s legal and employment documents for the use of the new company, as well as the alleged conspiracy to commit theft of CO&G equipment.

Mansfield allegedly cancelled the GPS tracking subscription for the CO&G trucks on February 28, 2022. The affidavit states that Meredith allegedly told investigators that he had been building his business since February of 2022, which is the same time frame as when the GPS was turned off. CO&G trucks were allegedly seen hauling equipment to the MWES shop after they could not be tracked. The affidavit states that even though CO&G trucks were not working in the field during the beginning of March 2022, CO&G went through over 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

According to court documents, 500 gallons of diesel would typically be sufficient to get two semi-trucks back and forth from Idaho, which means 3,000 gallons of fuel within a couple weeks is significant when the trucks were allegedly not working and tracking had been turned off.

Additionally, Johnson was allegedly seen in Colorado coming from Cannon property in a CO&G truck and trailer hauling equipment that was never delivered to CO&G, the affidavit says. The truck allegedly did not have tracking anymore, and all three parties were still employed by CO&G at that time.

Mansfield also allegedly authorized the company providing CO&G’s environmental health and safety programs to clone legal and employment documents that had cost CO&G thousands of dollars to prepare and maintain by their attorney. Mansfield allegedly sent them to Meredith’s son for the use of his own disposal business.

An email chain shows that Meredith’s son asked the company if they could access several of CO&G’s EHS forms to make changes for his business, and the company replied stating that they could clone the forms if CO&G authorized it. Meredith allegedly directed Mansfield to give that authorization, which he allegedly did.

Detectives found several MWES safety forms were allegedly nearly identical to CO&G’s forms, with just the name of the company changed. Detectives noted that the MWES Confidentiality Agreement still allegedly included the name “Cannon” in one section of the form. The forms that were allegedly cloned included policy, new hire, code of safe practices, confidentiality agreements, and other documents.

The affidavit states that an employee with the company told detectives that their protocol for cloning documents and information from one account to another requires approval from both the administrator of the requesting account and the administrator of the accessing account. Once the documents are cloned, the employee said the forms are “fully editable”.

Mansfield was the administrator at the time the documents were cloned, and allegedly gave his written approval through email. The last time he allegedly accessed the account was April 1, 2022, on the mobile app.

Mansfield will remain out of custody on bond. He was ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with any of the witnesses or victims of the case. Additionally, he will not be allowed to leave the state of Wyoming without court approval, except for work purposes in Colorado or Utah.