A Powell day care provider and her husband have been charged with child endangerment for allegedly keeping methamphetamine in the same home where the woman watched other people’s children.
Powell police say they found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of meth during a Friday afternoon search of Mandy and Nick Ringler’s home.
“Currently, I have a day care; I’m sure I’m not allowed to do that anymore,” Mandy Ringler said of her employment during a Monday morning appearance in Park County’s Circuit Court.
The Ringlers each are facing misdemeanor counts of possessing methamphetamine and four felony counts of child endangerment. Each endangerment count — alleging the couple knowingly allowed a child to stay in a dwelling where they know there’s methamphetamine — is tied to children who were in the couple’s home the day before and the day of the police search.
Their Avenue D residence is licensed by the state as a family child care home, but that license was suspended by the Wyoming Department of Family Services after Monday’s court hearing.
Two of the counts relate to toddlers who Mandy Ringler, 33, watched last Thursday at the residence. The other two counts relate to Mandy Ringler’s own children, who were in the home prior to Friday’s search by police.
At Monday’s hearing, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters agreed with the recommendation of Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt and ordered the Ringlers each held on $10,000 cash bonds pending an Oct. 9 preliminary hearing.
Nick Ringler, 35, did not object to Blatt’s recommendation.
Mandy Ringler unsuccessfully asked to be released on her own recognizance. She had cited her strong family ties to Powell, a general lack of past criminal charges and an urgent need to address some financial obligations.
The judge said that, while he wasn’t worried about Mandy Ringler fleeing the area, he was concerned about the danger she posed to the community.
“The problem is, if you open up a day care, you’re the one responsible for the protection of the lives of those kids,” Waters said. “And the state Legislature has determined it’s a pretty serious offense — and rightfully so — to have such things as methamphetamine in close proximity to those kids.”
Charging documents in the case indicate the Powell police investigation began on Sept. 22, when an informant came forward to accuse the Ringlers of using and selling methamphetamine. The informant recounted times in August and September when the informant had used meth with the Ringlers in their home and garage, as well as a couple instances of getting meth from them, too, according to an affidavit from Officer Kade Richmond.
“The meth use and distribution activities … concerned (the informant) because the Ringler’s (sic) operate a state-licensed daycare (sic) from their residence,” Richmond wrote.
Police obtained a search warrant and executed it around 3 p.m. Friday.
Officers found several pipes in a trash can in the master bedroom and the bedroom closet, while discovering a spoon, syringe and plastic baggie with crystal-like residue in a bathroom trash can. The garage reportedly held a bong, a glass pipe with white residue, two small digital scales and several measuring cups with residue.
“I believe these cups had been used to measure out and weigh meth,” Richmond wrote.
A motor home parked behind the residence — owned by a different man — yielded another bong, an apparent marijuana pipe, three apparent meth pipes, a plastic baggie with a small amount of what looked like marijuana inside and a bottle and two small baggies with white residue, Richmond wrote.
During the search, Mandy Ringler “substantially denied using or selling methamphetamine, saying that it was only her husband,” wrote Richmond. Police later received court permission to obtain a blood sample from Mandy Ringler for drug-testing purposes.
Nick Ringler, who is unemployed, reportedly told police that the paraphernalia found in the house and garage had been stored there for about six months.
Police say they found meth in the liner of the vest he was wearing.
Nick Ringler admitted to having used the drug earlier that day and said “he had been using meth heavily since he was arrested in California in August,” Richmond wrote.
According to the Ceres, Calif., Courier, Ringler had been arrested Aug. 31 on a misdemeanor charge of possessing a loaded handgun. Ceres police told the Courier that Ringler had been found armed and asleep in his car, parked outside of a home where officers seized 39 grams of methamphetamine and $2,300 in cash.
The informant reportedly told Powell police that Nick Ringler had been on a “run” to get meth at the time of his California arrest.
“Nick told (the informant) a friend had bonded him out of jail and (he) had to sell some methamphetamine to pay that person back,” Richmond wrote in an application for a search warrant.
Nick Ringler was freed after posting a $20,000 bail bond in the California case, according to Stanislaus County Superior Court records. He had been scheduled to be arraigned on the handgun charge on Wednesday afternoon in Modesto, Calif., but instead remained jailed in Cody.
Mandy Ringler has been licensed as a child care provider since 2006, and her license had been renewed for an additional year in May, according to Department of Family Services data. Her family child care home license is intended for providers watching three to 10 children, and the service reportedly was the couple’s primary source of income.
Department policy is to make at least two visits to licensees’ home each year: one scheduled and one unannounced. The last department inspection of the Ringlers’ residence took place in February, and no violations were found, said Tony Lewis, a department spokesman.
Before receiving or renewing a license, an applicant and any other adults living in the home — which in this case would mean both of the Ringlers — must undergo criminal background checks, Lewis said.
He said the department has launched its own investigation that will have to work “behind and around” the one being conducted by law enforcement.