Photo by Lincoln County Detention Center
Daniel W. Founds
Daniel Founds, 30, who drove a stolen SUV into the river and set it on fire on the second day of the year, was convicted Thursday of two counts of theft as well as resisting arrest.Founds pled no contest to the charges. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Lincoln County Court Judge Kent Turnbull sentenced him to 30 days on each charge, but allowed the sentences to be served at the same time. Founds has been behind bars for 16 days, which will be subtracted from his sentence.
On Jan. 2, Founds drove a stolen SUV belonging to Barb Torrez of North Platte into the South Platte River, set it on fire, and ran away on foot.
He apparently set the fire in hopes of destroying a stolen purse that was in the pickup, prosecutors said.
The 1986 Chevy Blazer was reported stolen around 6 a.m. that morning. Shortly before 11 a.m., Founds apparently drove across the parking lot of the Harvest Christian Fellowship, entering the river about 400 yards east of the South Platte Bridge on Dewey St. A North Platte policeman on patrol happened to see the fire around 11 a.m. and called for backup as well as firefighters.
Officers found Founds on foot a short time later behind the Wal-Mart Supercenter. He did not respond at first to a state trooper’s commands, but several officers arrived, forced him to the ground and handcuffed him, according to the police report.
Found’s clothes smelled of gasoline and his pants and feet were soaked in gas, Police Spokesman John Deal said. He also appeared to be intoxicated.
Founds, who is said to be from Colorado, was staying in North Platte with a family member in the 1100 block of S. Tabor, eight blocks from where the pickup was stolen.
The family member also showed police a car speaker, which they said Founds brought to the house. Police said the speaker was reported stolen on Dec. 29 from a vehicle in the 800 block of S. Taft.
Founds was also initially charged with taking property that belonged to North Platte residents Andrew Pavelka and Scott Davis, according to court records.
The arrest of Founds, as well as that of Alexander W. Fourtner on Jan. 8, helped solve a bundle of theft reports in that area of town, according to police reports. Most of the items stolen were taken out of unlocked cars.
Fourtner had of the several stolen items, including a toy penguin, in his house in the 700 block of S. Eastman, police said. The three-foot-tall penguin was taken in mid-December from a Cody Park Christmas display.
Fourtner was charged Jan. 10 with thefts at 1049 So. Tabor, at 1037 So. Tabor, at 415 So. Silber, at 621 So. Tabor, at 1133 So. Tabor, and at 420 So. Silber, according to police records.
(Fourtner was also charged with thefts on West First – at 1412, 1406 and 1401. –Editor.)
In court, Turnbull ordered Founds to pay $1,000 restitution to SUV owner Barb Torrez. He gave Founds credit for 16 days served.
In exchange for Founds’ guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed charges of arson, obstructing justice, driving under the influence, refusing a breath/chemical test as well as other theft charges.