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District court: Marijuana smuggler stays in jail, not penitentiaryTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Jeffery Denson
Courtesy Photo­Image
Ross Rivera
Courtesy Photo­Image
Kent Smith
Courtesy Photo­Image
Russell Lockwood

Jeffery Denson, who once smuggled marijuana in his butt into the Lincoln County Jail, will serve up to another year or so in jail following action Monday in Lincoln County District Court.

Lincoln County District Judge Richard Birch sentenced Denson to consecutive terms in the county jail on a charge of robbery and a charge of distribution of marijuana.

Denson, 22, will serve 240 days for robbery and 180 days for distribution. He will get credit for 98 days already served.

Denson and defense attorney P. Stephen Potter had arranged a plea deal with the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office, so charges were dropped of obstructing an officer, trespassing and assault on a confined person.

Lincoln County sheriff’s records also show that charges of using a weapon to commit a felony and making terroristic threats were also dropped before the plea deal.

Denson had a bad run in February. He was arrested Feb. 8 when police found a pickup parked on a loading ramp at the Nebraska Department of Roads yard near 13th and Buffalo.

Officers found four adults, drugs and a handgun in the vehicle. Denson remained in the jail that weekend, was released the following Monday on his own recognizance but he got into trouble again the same night.

Police said Denson and Sylvester LeBlanc III, 19, swiped a cell phone and cash from Bethany Vencil, 20, at a mobile home in King’s Court on West Ninth. Vencil told police that she let the two men in to use the bathroom and LeBlanc robbed her at gunpoint. LeBlanc went on the run but was arrested 10 days later in Lincoln by the Metro Fugitive Task Force.

Denson got into more trouble at the jail after he was booked for the robbery. He stuck some pot up his butt and held it there during booking. He later passed some of it on to other inmates. Detention Officers found three inmates had the pot during a routine search a couple days later.

In court, defense attorney P. Stephen Potter stuck up for his client.

“It was clear that no evidence had been presented to prove that Denson was the principal perpetrator in the robbery and his crimes do not justify penitentiary time,” Potter said.

Chief Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Tanya Roberts-Connick agreed and asked for a county jail sentence

In sentencing, Birch agreed that Denson was not the principal in the crime and did not deserve pen time, but he issued a stern warning.

“I do hope though that you realize just how close you came to ruining your whole life,” Birch told him.

In other district court action:

Ross Rivera, 29, of North Platte, was convicted and sentenced to the time he has already served in jail for domestic assault and theft.

Rivera stole items from Rent-a-Center in North Platte with a total value of $3,320, prosecutor Jennifer Wellan told the court.

Rivera was picked up in late June in the 2000 block of West Fifth where his girlfriend Sheena Strand lived. Police acted on a tip. Strand told them he wasn’t there, but officers gained consent to enter the house and found Rivera hiding in a bedroom.

Rivera served seven months in the state pen in 2012 for the domestic assault of Strand as well as meth possession. After Rivera was arrested at that time, but before he went to the pen, he completed six weeks of intensive out-patient treatment for drug addiction and attended domestic violence intervention sessions.

He went to the penitentiary in February and was released on parole in October 2012.

In court Monday, Rivera pled no contest in a plea deal. The theft charge was reduced from a class III felony to a class IV felony, avoiding a mandatory penitentiary sentence.

Rivera served 104 days in the county jail after he was found at Stand’s home, according to jail records.


Kent Smith, 26, of North Platte was sentenced to 363 days in the county jail for tampering with a witness and intimidation. He received credit for 109 days.

Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling asked for penitentiary time because of Smith’s prior record, including two imprisonments, once on a drug charge in Colorado and once for 1˝-3 years for two counts of aiding and abetting burglary in Nebraska.

Smith was released on parole on the second sentence on Aug. 31, 2011 and still faces a charge of violating the conditions of his release.

But Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands sentenced him to jail, not the pen.

“Tampering with a witness does not justify pen time,” Rowlands said.


Russell Lockwood, 40, of North Platte, was sentenced to 180 days jail with credit for 48 days for possession of methamphetamine. Chief Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Tanya Roberts-Connick requested penitentiary time because of Lockwood’s prior record.

Lockwood has been in the county jail once before for possession of marijuana. He spent a year in the penitentiary for manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of anhydrous ammonia with the intent of manufacturing meth in 2004-05.

But Rowlands said, “The amount this time was very small, apparently for personal use, was not intended for distribution and does not warrant penitentiary time.”


Bradley Russell, 40, of North Platte was sentenced to 113 days county jail for misdemeanor domestic assault.

He was given credit for 110 days served and with good time was released right after court.

The Lincoln County Attorney’s Office dropped charges of forcible sexual assault and strangulation because evidence did not support those charges.


Christopher Barber, 26, of North Platte was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 18 months probation, a $1,000 fine and five years of license revocation for driving under the influence (third-offense) and driving without an interlock device.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 10/7/2013
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