COLUMBUS — A 33-year-old Columbus man was sentenced to prison for the fifth time Tuesday for possession of meth and criminal possession of blank credit, gift and phone cards.

Platte County District Court Judge Robert Steinke sentenced Joshua Ertzner to two years in prison and nine months of post-release supervision on the charges after rejecting the defense's call for a term of probation.

In exchange for Ertzner’s no contest pleas on the charges, allowing him to avoid a jury trial previously scheduled for later this month, the county attorney’s office dismissed a third charge accusing him of being a habitual criminal.

“It’s clear you can’t be safely supervised in the community on probation,” said Steinke, noting that Ertzner already avoided a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence by reaching the deal that dismissed the habitual criminal charge.

“You know your way around the court system,” Steinke said. “Everything in the presentence investigation report tells me you are a habitual criminal.”

The judge gave Ertzner credit for 119 days served since his arrest in June.

Ertzner was released from prison about a year ago after serving just under five years of a seven- to 10-year sentence in Platte and Colfax county cases for convictions of burglary, second-degree forgery and theft by deception-over $1,500.

Steinke said the defendant had a “lengthy previous history” that included four prison sentences dating back to 2000, when he was still in his teens.

Ertzner was one of three men and two women jailed on drug charges after being swept up in a police raid of a residence the five shared along 24th Avenue. The city man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

Meanwhile, Ertzner was already under investigation by Columbus Police for possession of the blank credit, gift and phone cards that came to light while authorities were questioning suspects in the theft of a cellphone from a local store.

Officer Jeff Anderson wrote in his probable cause arrest statement that Ertzner matched the description of the suspect who reportedly stole the cellphone. He was also in possession of numerous pieces of scratch paper with bank account numbers, personal identification numbers and IP addresses written on them, the officer wrote.

“I know from training and experience that people who possess blank credit cards, gift cards and phone cards do so with the intent of programming other people’s bank information on them,” Anderson wrote in his statement.

The officer wrote that subpoenas were issued to several local banks to obtain account holder information, which was traced to the bank account numbers, personal identification numbers and IP addresses Ertzner had in his possession when he was searched by authorities in January.

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