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Casper man given 4- to 6-year prison term for burglary

A statue of Justice at the Townsend Justice Center, as seen through an exterior window of the building, on Center Street in Casper. (Greg Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — A Casper man has been sentenced to four to six years in state prison for burglary and has been ordered to pay over $14,000 in restitution for items stolen.

Robert Gene Bockman, 42, was sentenced Thursday, Feb. 2 in Natrona County District Court. The state’s attorney noted that while Bockman’s parole officer felt he was a suitable candidate for probation, the author of the presentence investigation report and the victim felt otherwise.

Bockman’s attorney, Joseph Cole, reported that Bockman had recently made major breakthroughs in counseling, but Judge Catherine Wilking noted Bockman’s extensive criminal history and noncompliance with court orders when imposing the sentence.

On Jan. 20, 2022, police responded to a garage on South Cedar Street after a property manager had informed the owner, who was out of the country, that someone had broken into his garage and stolen a motorcycle and other belongings, according to the Casper Police Department affidavit.

Using a Facetime video of the garage, the owner identified that a roto-tiller, two poker tables, two battery flow testers, and his custom Harley-Davidson were missing. The property manager told police that a previous property manager, identified as Bockman, had left a message demanding that certain property be left out in front of the residence, among other vague threats. 

Investigators learned that Bockman had once lived at the residence and worked for the owner to pay rent. 

Two days later, Bockman’s truck was seen partially backed into the garage on a neighbor’s security video, according to the affidavit. The property owner then identified several other missing items, including tools and a motorcycle lift.

After obtaining a warrant, investigators said they found pictures of several of the items on Bockman’s cellphone, as well as messages with several people negotiating the sale of a motorcycle lift.  

The affidavit noted that Bockman was facing parole violations at the time of the investigation. 

Assistant District Attorney Jared Holbrook noted Thursday that the state had attempted to work to resolve the matter and Bockman’s other case with a suspended sentence, but that Bockman had missed multiple scheduled meetings with probation and parole.

“He’s been given every single chance possible,” Holbrook noted.

Cole acknowledged these matters before the judge, but said that Bockman had recently embraced accountability and cooperation after breakthroughs with counseling, submitting a letter from the Central Wyoming Counseling Center.

“Somewhere, a light dawned on him,” Cole said. In a letter to the court read by Cole, Bockman said he was prepared to pay any restitution the court ordered — Holbrook had noted that the state could definitively pin the theft of the Harley on Bockman, and it was prepared to subtract its value from the restitution ordered.

Bockman asked that the court not “derail” the recent progress he’d made with sobriety and recovery.

Judge Wilking was not swayed. 

“I appreciate the plea to not have the court derail that progress, but it is not this court that has derailed it, it is Mr. Bockman’s own actions,” Wilking said. “What cannot be overlooked is his extensive criminal history … and he’s listed as a ‘very high’ risk for recidivism; I frankly don’t recall seeing that.”

“He’s been given every opportunity to succeed,” Judge Wilking said.