Wyoming Catholic College in Lander fired Paul McCown, its chief financial officer, after he was accused of defrauding an investment firm out of $15 million. (Photo by Matthew Copelan, WyoFile.com)

When Paul McCown came to Lander from Michigan in 2018 to take over the finances of tiny Wyoming Catholic College, he quickly made a strong impression. He served on the town planning commission, became treasurer of the Lander Economic Development Association and told some he planned to run for the seat of longtime Wyoming State Sen. Cale Case (R-Lander).

Many were impressed with his fresh ideas and unbridled enthusiasm about the future of the ambitious young college, as well as his vision of the business potential of his new hometown.

“He was just an outstanding CFO,” said David Kellogg, chairman of the college’s board. “He really understood the numbers, and presented them well to the board. He did a great job.”

His star burned brightest earlier this year when the 35-year-old Michigan native seemed to not only have the college’s finances in fine form — thanks largely to an anonymous $10 million donation — but also bragged that his personal wealth had soared from a side gig for which demand had exploded virtually overnight. He had toyed with distilling huckleberry gin in late 2019, but after COVID-19 struck, his business, McCown…

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