by Rick Langenberg:
Future trial in Cripple Creek pending
One of the biggest home burglaries in Cripple Creek has reached a mini-conclusion, with a former local resident and bed and breakfast owner getting slapped with an initial prison sentence and facing additional state charges and the prospects of a future local criminal trial. As a result, the local law enforcement book may soon close on a nearly three-year inquiry into a much publicized burglary of a home occupied by a well-known and popular Cripple Creek resident and former member of the historic preservation and planning commission.
According to a press release by the Cripple Creek Police Department and federal officials, William Lyman Agnew, 55, appeared in U.S. District Court in Louisiana recently. He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison, followed by three years of supervision for a variety of crimes committed in Louisiana. Part of the plea agreement, though, dealt with his role in stealing highly valued silver, gold and rare weapons and artifacts from a Cripple Creek resident. He was ordered to pay a Cripple Creek victim $45,000 in restitution and pay the court clerk a special assessment of $1,300.
The actually Cripple Creek robbery occurred in 2010, while the victim was vacationing overseas. Agnew had been staying in the victim’s home, after encountering marital-related problems.
At the time, former Cripple Creek Police Chief Gary Hamilton called it one of the biggest home burglaries in the last decade in Cripple Creek. Concerns also mounted about what would happen if some of the weapons got in the wrong hands. “These are not normal guns,” said Hamilton, who noted that some of these sniper weapons were capable of killing someone within a several mile range.
The suspect, known as “Lyman” locally, formerly ran a bed and breakfast establishment, called the Doll House, located on Galena Avenue and referred to as the “Pink House.” Agnew’s initial sentence was the result of a guilty plea he made with Louisiana authorities last February. He agreed to 13 criminal counts, including five counts of misuse of a social security number; two counts of furnishing false information to the Social Security Administration; making a false statement to a federal agent; making a false application for a passport; aggravated identity theft; interstate transportation of stolen property; possession, concealment, and storage of stolen firearms and ammunition; and, possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.
According to Cripple Creek Police Chief April Peterson, the majority of these counts dealt with crimes committed in Louisiana. She said Agnew also may face a future trial in Cripple Creek, and could encounter more years behind bars (besides his initial sentence) for his much publicized residential robbery in the Creek. The police chief described the capture and prosecution of Agnew a result of great cooperation among law enforcement authorities in Cripple Creek and Louisiana and the federal government. “We feel very good that we were able to resolve this case and that it turned out the way it did,” said Peterson.
Peterson stressed that the apprehension and sentencing of Agnew represented a nearly three-year investigation. According to the CC police chief, authorities from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) played a big role in apprehending Agnew, who was initially arrested for a spree of identity thefts in Louisiana in early April 2012. Once he was apprehended, more details surfaced regarding his burglaries in Colorado. Authorities were then able to pieced together the spree of crimes the suspect committed in both Louisiana and Cripple Creek.
A detailed investigation by a variety of agencies, including the Cripple Creek Police Department, revealed that Agnew stole approximately $280,000 worth of modern firearms, ammunition, gold, antique coins, jewelry and antique military paraphernalia, including a 22 karat gold medal issued by President George Washington to a general in the Revolutionary War, from a local home. The spree of thefts occurred when Agnew was staying in the home, at the permission of the owner, following a bitter divorce settlement.
Special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded that Agnew burglarized a secured and heavily bolted room, where the highly-valued guns and valuables were kept. A federal warrant was issued for Agnew on Nov. 3, 2010, after authorities investigated the crime scene, collected evidence and interviewed the suspect, who reportedly failed a lie detector test “miserably.” He fled the area, after learning that authorities were going to arrest him, according to sources. According to Peterson, once Agnew fled Cripple Creek, authorities knew he was the main suspect and robber responsible for the crimes.
However, catching Agnew wasn’t easy. After he fled Colorado, Agnew relocated in Louisiana, where he obtained false identities in seven names, four of whom were stolen identities of real persons, of which two were deceased, one was an acquaintance, and one was his own son, according to the Cripple Creek Police and federal authorities.
Agnew obtained a Louisiana driver’s licenses for four of these stolen identities and he attempted to obtain a U.S. passport. In addition, Agnew stashed most of the stolen property in two different mini-warehouses that he rented using two of his stolen identities. Federal agents ultimately discovered the location of the stolen property and obtained a search warrant, recovering 42 firearms, 36,000 rounds of ammunition, and most of the jewelry and medals, valued at approximately $220,000. None of the gold coins, though, were recovered.
All the recovered property will be returned to the property owner, according to Cripple Creek Police officials. The effort to snag Agnew was a joint investigation by the CC Police Department, the U.S. Department of State, the FBI, ATF, SSA and other agencies. Agnew still has pending state charges for grand theft in Colorado.
In a previous interview, Hamilton said local authorities didn’t have much trouble with Agnew during his time in Cripple Creek. The former police chief conceded, though, that Agnew did have a domestic violence incident with a former wife that didn’t result in any arrest. Peterson echoed similar comments, saying local authorities didn’t have any problems with Agnew until the reported robberies of 2010.
Several local sources, though, say Agnew had a dark side and treated his former wife in a horrific fashion. In addition, ATF officials reported previous convictions of Agnew for theft and burglary in the 1970s. These occurred in Alabama and Georgia and contributed to some of his recent felony sentences.