Platte County Courthouse Side

Pictured is a side view of the Platte County Courthouse, 2610 14th St., in Columbus.

A Columbus man who on two previous occasions spent time in prison is heading back to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services following his most recent encounter with Platte County District Court Judge Robert Steinke.

Richard D. Sutton, 35, was convicted of distributing an exceptionally hazardous controlled substance – methamphetamine, a Class II felony. If punished to the full extent of the law, the defendant could have faced up to 50 years behind bars. Sutton’s previous convictions led to him spending one to two years in prison in 2006 and 2009, court records show.

This time, he will serve an indeterminate sentence of 30 months to five years. Under the Good Time Law of Nebraska, Sutton could be eligible for release in about 15 months. Court records show that prosecutors initially pursued habitual criminal status for Sutton – which would result in a minimum of 10 years spent in prison – but the charge was ultimately dropped/dismissed.

On Nov. 21, 2018, a confidential informant working with the Columbus Police Department informed officers that he or she was aware of the defendant selling methamphetamine in Columbus, according to a warrantless arrest affidavit.

Equipped with $60 and a digital recording/listening device, court records show the informant met with Sutton behind a local apartment complex and proceeded to navigate to another location where the defendant provided him or her with .9 grams of methamphetamine.

In other Platte County Court happenings:

*A Creston man previously convicted three times of driving while under the influence of alcohol in Platte County was recently sentenced to a stint in jail followed by months of probation.

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Nicholas G. Regnier, 33, was sentenced to 60 days in jail – which started Friday afternoon – and 36 months of supervised probation. Court records show that the defendant was previously convicted of DUI in Platte County in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Each arrest, court records show, Regnier’s blood alcohol content was .15 or higher, resulting in the charges being aggravated since his BAC was at or above twice the legal limit.

Through a charge amendment, Regnier was convicted of aggravated DUI third offense, a Class IIIA felony. In addition to time spent in Platte County Jail and the subsequent probation, the defendant is also being required to have a continuous alcohol monitoring device for 60 days following his release from jail.

*Leighton R.C. Fortner, 38, of Omaha was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation after being convicted on the amended charge of attempting to violate a protection order, a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year imprisonment.

*Bobbi Jo Hite, 35, of Columbus was sentenced to a year in prison after being convicted of theft by unlawful taking, a Class IV felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. As part of the defendant's sentencing, Hite is being required to pay $3,395 in restitution to a Lancaster County woman, court records show. The restitution must be paid in-full two years after the defendant’s release date.

On June 27, court records show that an officer with the CPD was dispatched to The Oasis Bar in reference to a stolen vehicle. Contact was made with the victim who reported that his or her truck was taken sometime between 8:15 and 8:45 that evening.

Video footage obtained from a nearby business showed Hite taking the vehicle just after 8:30 p.m., court records show. The defendant was located and arrested by another CPD officer three days later during an unrelated traffic stop.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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