Man charged with stealing funds from search and rescue association pleads not guilty

A local man charged stealing money from the Wyoming Search and Rescue Association entered a plea of not guilty late last month. Donald Foote Jr. of Cody, the previous and final President of WYSARA, is facing a felony charge of larceny by bailee for allegedly misspending thousands from the WYSARA bank account in late 2011 and early 2012, right as the association began to dissolve. If convicted, Foote could serve up to 10 years in prison and/or be ordered to pay up to a $10,000 fine. Someone using the name Don Foote posted the following message on a forum on on Nov. 4: "I’m sorry for the negative social media post regarding my name, the annual Cody Ice Climbing Festival or Wyoming Rescue Source once associated with WYSARA. I cannot say anything other than a court case is ongoing and we hope to have it resolved this month and at that time I will share the entire document with all as I have nothing to hide." The court documents filed in the case allege that Foote used the money in the account to purchase home electronics, including a Wii, as well as pay his rent. Foote was the only WYSARA officer, and the only person with access to the public organization's funds, from September 2011 through April 2012. Foote is the founder and operator of the annual Cody Ice Climbing Festival. The affidavit alleges that WYSARA funds were used to purchase advertising for the festival. And in 2014, it is alleged that Foote held a Silent Auction for WYSARA at the festival, which was two years after WYSARA was dissolved. The Division of Criminal Investigation began looking into the case after Park County Sheriff Scott Steward when he learned the account had been overdrawn, but at the time of the treasurer's resignation there had been roughly $6,000. Foote's trial is expected to be held sometime late in the winter. The Cody Ice Climbing Festival is expected to resume in mid-February 2016. #reboot