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Wheel lover gets 240 days in jailTell North Platte what you think
Photo by LCSO
Anthony Bennett
Photo by LCSO
John Scott
Photo by LCSO
Cody Fleharty

A North Platte man, who allegedly fell so much in love with a set of tires and rims that he stole them, was sentenced to 240 days in the Lincoln County Jail.

Anthony L. Bennett, 32, formerly of North Platte but now of Crawford, was found guilty of the crime in March.

Bennett was jailed last Friday after Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling said she had his bond revoked. She said Bennett had voiced his displeasure to a witness in the case about statements she had made during the investigation.

Blaine Gillett, Bennett’s attorney, said his client would admit receiving stolen property but did not do the actual burglary.

The North Platte police investigated a burglary at T.O. Haas Tires, at 1919 Rodeo Road, July 1, 2008. Someone pounded on the back door of the shop until the lock gave way. Once inside the suspect took four Hankook tires mounted on four Pacer rims. Nothing else was touched, the managers believed.

The tires and rims were valued at $2,400.

Investigators spoke with Joe Contreras and quickly developed a suspect. Contreras advised investigators that Anthony Bennett had been in the store several times, looking at the tires and expressing a desire to buy them.

In fact, the day before the burglary, Bennett requested that the tires and rims be placed on his vehicle to see how they looked. He was so pleased, according to Contreras, that he told store employees he would return to purchase them.

That was the last time the T.O. Haas employees saw or spoke with Bennett.

The next morning the tires and rims were gone.

Investigators couldn’t locate Bennett. The crime ran as a Crime Stoppers crime of the week and got a number of tipsters. Tipsters said Bennett had used a sledge hammer to break the lock and another admitted hearing Bennett admit to having the tires and rims. Another tipster said Bennett had been in Maxwell’s Off Road comparing tire and wheel prices. Another tip, from Advanced Auto, said that a man had come into the store wanting to sell tires. When asked whether they were the tires stolen from T.O. Haas, the person said, “no, those tires are currently in Crawford.”

Using the tips, investigators contacted Crawford Police Chief Greg Taylor. They also sent pictures of the stolen tires and rims. Taylor quickly located the tires and rims on Bennett’s blue Chevrolet pickup parked outside his Crawford home, according to a warrant.

Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands said Bennett’s court history began in 1994 in juvenile court and that he had made an appearance every two years since. He gave Bennett five days credit for time served and ordered no restitution because the tires and wheels were returned.

In other court action:

• Derek Loudermill was sentenced to from 1-1/2 to 5 years in prison for burglary and passing stolen checks.

Loudermill’s girlfriend and co-defendent, Kaytlynne Shifflett, got six months probation for her role in the burglary and check passing scheme.

The investigation began June 7, 2008, after a residence was burglarized. The thieves removed property and blank checks from the home.

Soon afterward, the checks began appearing after being passed in stores in North Platte and Lexington.

Officers obtained video footage of the person who allegedly passed the stolen checks and posted it on the Lincoln County Crime Stoppers website and in the local media.

On July 20, 2008, officers were called to the Blue Spruce Motel and made contact with Shifflett. After searching the room, they discovered items taken from the burglary and numerous blank checks that belonged to a variety of people. Shifflett was arrested.

Loudermill turned himself in the next day.

Prosecutors asked for prison time for Loudermill.

Martin Troshynski, Loudermill’s attorney, said his client did not appear for a pre-sentence investigation interview because his girlfriend gave birth to an extremely premature baby.

• Diane Larsen-Butterfield admitted she violated her probation by not completing a psychiatric evaluation, failed to follow recommendations in her substance abuse evaluation, testing positive for alcohol with a blood alcohol content of .083 on March 17 and filing to pay $580 in court fees.

Larsen-Butterfield was serving 18 months probation for violating a protection order when her probation was revoked. She will be sentenced on June 8.

• Justin L. Krontz, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree forgery for passing what appeared to be payroll checks from Weathercraft Roofing. City Discount Liquor contacted the police in November 2008 to report that three payroll checks written to Krontz had been passed. All three were returned as “unable to locate account” by Lincoln Federal Savings Bank.

The police learned that Weathercraft did not have an account at the bank and had never employed Krontz. Three additional checks were passed, one at the Bottle Shop.

The total amount of the checks was $2,487.67.

Krontz, from Oklahoma, entered into the plea deal so he could go back to work at a hog farm and agreed to repay full restitution.

Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling said she agreed to the plea agreement because the victim wants restitution. Krontz will be sentenced May 18.

• Cody Fleharty, 20, 7265 Twin Lake Road, pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault for the brutal beating of a 16-year-old at a house party Jan. 31.

A co-defendant, John C. Scott, is awaiting trial for the same offense June 9. Both could face a maximum 20-years imprisonment if convicted.

The incident allegedly occurred a little past midnight at a house party on Fourth Street, according to a police spokesman.

The 16-year-old teenager was at the house party filled with older adults, the spokesman said. He allegedly refused to pass a bottle of ether they here huffing, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said Scott began pounding on the kid and Fleharty joined in. They were originally going to be charged with third-degree assault but the charges were increased when officers realized the boy suffered a broken nose.

The boy left the house with multiple injuries and called his mother who called the police, the spokesman said.

The boy’s mother was at the party house when the police arrived, the spokesman said. The boy was treated and released from Great Plains Regional Medical Center.

Officers interviewing the men said they sat in "confused silence" as officers tried to find out what happened.

Fleharty appeared before Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands wearing a blue shirt with a large white marijuana leaf on the front. Underneath the marijuana leaf was the word “Addicted.”

Richard Birch, Fleharty’s attorney, said after court he intended to have a conversation with his client about his choice of attire when appearing in court.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/20/2009
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