Michael Freeman was sentenced to a year’s probation Thursday for two counts of theft.Earlier, Freeman, 27, pled no contest in a deal that reduced the charges to misdemeanors. He appeared for sentencing following a presentence investigation report that was presented to the court.
According to police reports, Freeman was arrested Oct. 25 after an Aug. 25 complaint that he left Applebee’s in North Platte without paying for his meal.
An employee told the officer that when Freeman got the bill for his meal, he said he had to go to his car and get his credit card and never returned.
He had two prior convictions for theft, so the crime elevated to a felony. He spent nine days in jail before he paid bond and was released to await his court case.
While he was out, he was charged again Nov. 11 for theft at Express AVL on Rodeo Rd.
The store manager found empty boxes on shelves that should have contained merchandise. The security video showed Freeman removing a car CD player and an amplifier from the boxes. Police found the CD player installed in his car.
After that arrest, he spent 31 days in jail before bonding out Dec. 13.
Then Freeman entered a residential treatment program at the Salvation Army’s Rehabilitation Center in Omaha and the cases were continued (tabled) until he completed the program.
In court Thursday, Defense Attorney Martin Troshynski added reports from the treatment center to the case record. Troshynski said that treatment is one of the “hardest programs” in the state.
“I am proud of what he has done. He has come a long way,” he said. “Not only did he complete the program, but he now works for them.”
Turnbull said the PSI did not recommend probation, and normally he won’t give probation if the PSI is against it.
“But I have confidence in faith-based programs,” Turnbull said. “Tell me what you learned there.”
“I worked for room and board. There were no charges,” Freeman said. “I learned to build a network of sober friends.”
Turnbull agreed that the Salvation Army program was tough.
“As you did complete it successfully, you will receive probation, but if you fail this and come back, I am letting you know that it won’t be anything short of a lengthy sentence.”
Leland Kleckner, 43, was convicted of third-degree assault and sentenced to 180 days in jail.
He was arrested April 26, 2016 for an altercation with his sister. The victim said he kicked her in an ankle where she had previously had surgery, and also twisted her wrist.
Defense Attorney Blaine Gillett said his client spent 45 days in treatment and 90 days in a half-way house and has worked hard to change his life, completing a treatment program at Touchstone in Lincoln.
Deputy County Attorney said reports from the treatment center indicated Kleckner did well.
Turnbull agreed and credited Kleckner with 102 days for the time he spent in treatment, which satisfied his jail sentence and costs.
Repetitive probation failures
In two separate probation violation cases, Turnbull kept his word, issuing jail terms for the violations.
Shane Weller, 20, will spend 120 days in jail after he violated his probation for the second time.
“Probation is a privilege,” Turnbull told Weller, adding that he “doesn’t take violations lightly” and the sentence is what he had been promised if he came back before him a second time.
Likewise, Kenneth Cassell, 35, received a 270-day sentence for his second violation.
When Cassell violated the first time, Turnbull told him of that would happen if he returned.
Cassell has already spent 97 days in a jail in Hastings, for which he received credit.