Photo by LCSO
One member of a theft ring that allegedly stole more than $2,000 worth of construction materials from Menards pleaded not guilty to theft in court Monday.
Lucille M. Johnston, 34, 903 N. Bailey, entered her plea before Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands. He set her trial for March 10, 2009.
Johnston, a former security guard at Menards, is charged with theft. She could face a maximum 20-years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine or both if convicted.
Michael L. Castor, 40, 909 E. Ninth; Michael Leon, 24, Maxwell; and Todd M. Warren, 41, 2901 Pawnee Ave. were also charged with the crime but have not been arraigned in County District Court yet.
Store employees became suspicious some time back, according to the police, so they kept an eye out for the men.
At 2:45 p.m. Nov. 18, the men arrived in the material yard with a trailer and began loading up items. A store employee called the police and reported a possible theft in progress.
Typically the items loaded in the material yard are checked against an invoice receipt from the actual purchase of the items inside. It is the security guard manned at the entrance and exit of the material yard who certifies the items loaded match the items purchased.
The security guards at Menard’s are employed by a subcontractor so they are not Menards employees.
The police stopped the men after they removed more than $2,000 worth of construction materials from the yard without paying.
Investigators believe Johnston, the guard, was paid kickback cash for looking the other way whenever the men pulled off the alleged scheme.
Investigators believe the scheme has been ongoing and that they have removed several more thousand dollars worth of Menards property without paying.
In other court action:
• Kyle F. Snow, 21, 2114 W. Second, pleaded guilty to theft and attempted distribution of marijuana. Two other counts of theft were dismissed in exchange for the plea.
Snow could face a maximum 25-years imprisonment, fines of $35,000 or both when sentenced Feb. 9, 2009.
Prosecutors said Snow admitted breaking into a car on Russian Olive Street and removing $6,350 from it. He also admitted to purchasing nearly one pound of marijuana and intended to sell it.
• Joseph L. Duran, 23, will serve 240 days in the Lincoln County Jail for violating his probation. Duran was serving three years probation for two counts of burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm and admitted he violated probation by drinking, smoking pot, living with known drug users in Kearney, leaving the county and failing to report to probation. Duran apologized to Judge Rowlands and said he “struggled daily” with his addiction to drugs. Rowlands indicated that Duran “did well” for most of his three years on probation and that Weathercraft reported that he was an “excellent employee.” He gave Duran credit for 117 days already served.
• Michael Dishman, serving two years probation for burglary and attempted burglary, will spend 60 days in the Lincoln County Jail and another two years on probation for violating his terms of probation. Dishman admitted he violated his probation by his arrest for false imprisonment, failure to maintain employment, living with a felon in Hastings, missing probation appointments and failing to pay court costs and fines of $2,667.25. Amanda Speichert, Dishman’s attorney, said her client was in outpatient treatment and counseling now.