A February string of seven car thefts in North Platte moved toward legal resolution Monday when 23-year-old Anthony R. McEntee of North Platte pleaded no contest to two felonies in Lincoln County District Court.
McEntee will be sentenced Aug. 19 by District Judge Richard Birch on related counts of burglary and theft, $5,000 or more. He could receive up to 20 years in prison per count.
Prosecutors dismissed three identical theft counts as part of a plea agreement, under which McEntee was sentenced Monday to time served in jail for the second time in an April 2018 drug case.
The car-theft spree kept North Platte police busy early Feb. 28 before they arrested McEntee with help from a 911 caller.
Officers recovered all seven stolen vehicles, which were swiped from scattered locations between 1:30 and 9:30 a.m. All were driven various distances, then abandoned.
McEntee broke into a garage to steal the vehicle involved in the pair of charges left under the plea agreement, said Deputy County Attorney Kortnei Hoeft.
The seventh and last vehicle was in the 2000 block of East Fourth Street when a 911 caller saw it being stolen, police said at the time.
Staying on the phone with dispatchers, the caller followed McEntee until he abandoned the vehicle two blocks away. He soon was arrested nearby.
Birch wrapped up McEntee’s older drug case by giving him concurrent 120-day jail terms, with 68 days’ credit for time served, for possession of methamphetamine and possession of money while distributing drugs.
Birch first sentenced McEntee last Oct. 15 to concurrent 90-day jail terms, with 85 days’ credit. McEntee admitted to violating post-release supervision on those counts by engaging in the February car thefts.
The judge also sentenced Benjamin Z. Brown, 23, to 150 days in jail in a sex-offender registration case involving what his attorney described as an unintended relocation from Scottsbluff to North Platte.
Brown pleaded guilty to one felony count of failing to update his address as a registered sex offender. He had registered with Scotts Bluff County law enforcement on Oct. 11, 2018, said Deputy County Attorney Angela Franz.
A North Platte resident told police May 29 that Brown had been living in North Platte for about a month. When officers contacted him, Franz said, he said he had no money and couldn’t return to Scottsbluff.
State law says registered sex offenders occupying a “temporary domicile” in another Nebraska county must report at least three business days before such a move — in person — to the county sheriff where they registered to fill out a state-approved change-of-address form.
Brown’s attorney, Kent Florom, said Brown’s mother had driven him from Scottsbluff to North Platte in April to attend a funeral. But she didn’t have enough money for gas to drive him back, Florom said.
Brown called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to notify deputies there of his sex-offender status, Florom said. Brown was told to call sheriff’s deputies in Scotts Bluff County, who said he should have reported there in person.
“Calling over the telephone didn’t qualify,” Florom said, “so we’re throwing ourselves on the mercy of the court.”
Birch then imposed the 150-day jail term, giving Brown 40 days’ credit for time served. Brown also must complete nine months of post-release supervision.
In other district court action (defendants are from North Platte unless otherwise noted):
» Kelly P. Raftery, 39, of Chandler, Arizona, received concurrent 90-day jail terms for attempted driving without an ignition interlock device and third-offense driving under the influence of alcohol. Both are misdemeanors.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Raftery May 3 south of North Platte after witnesses said he barely avoided colliding with a semitrailer truck while driving in the wrong lanes of U.S. Highway 83.
Deputies found him intoxicated with an open, mostly consumed bottle of cinnamon whiskey next to him in his vehicle, Franz said.
Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed misdemeanor counts of refusal to submit to a chemical test and driving under license revocation.
Birch, who gave Raftery 65 days’ credit for time served, also fined him $1,000 and suspended his driver’s license for 15 years. He cannot drive for any reason for 45 days and cannot drive in a vehicle lacking an interlock device, the judge said.
» Christopher Pent, 42, was sentenced to 200 days in jail after admitting to violating post-release supervision on an August 2017 charge of felony second-degree domestic assault.
Pent, whom Birch had sentenced to two years in prison on March 26, 2018, began his nine-month PRS period May 4. He then was cited May 30 on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.
Pent told Birch he plans to move out of Nebraska after serving his time. He waived his right to an attorney for Monday’s hearing, telling the judge, “I’m just ready to have this over with, sir.”
“That’s understandable,” Birch replied before sentencing Pent to jail. He gave him 13 days’ credit for time served.
» Erica P. Guerra, 29, pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute after she was admitted to the 11th Judicial District’s drug court.
Guerra, also known as Erica Davis, originally was charged with felony possession of 10 to 27 grams of methamphetamine. Sheriff’s deputies investigating a trespassing call Dec. 12 found the drug on Guerra’s person, County Attorney Rebecca Harling said.
» Timothy C. Dike, 23, pleaded guilty to two separate felony counts of possession of methamphetamine on Aug. 30 and Sept. 19, 2018. Birch assigned Dike’s cases to drug court.
» Danielle E. Blake, 33, of Anselmo received two 18-month probation terms after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of theft, $500 to $1,500.
Hoeft said Blake, also known as Danielle Mathis, helped steal a motor vehicle and a cellphone from a North Platte home on Nov. 19, 2017.
Blake’s probation terms will be concurrent with each other and an unrelated Custer County probation term, Birch said.
» Jeremy R. Nelsen, 39, pleaded no contest to felony burglary in exchange for dismissal of a separate felony count of unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, $1,500 to $5,000. Birch set sentencing for Aug. 19.
Franz said Nelsen had entered a North Platte home on Sept. 3, 2018, where he had lived but was no longer welcome. He and an accomplice took papers belonging to the home’s resident, she said.