PLATTSMOUTH – A Plattsmouth man will have to complete more than a dozen probation requirements over the next five years as punishment for burglarizing the Plattsmouth VFW building.
Jeremy J. McCoy, 19, appeared in Cass County District Court on Monday morning for a sentencing hearing. McCoy pled guilty in January to Class IIA felony charges of burglary and possession of a stolen firearm. The state agreed to dismiss an additional burglary charge and two theft charges as part of a plea bargain.
A Plattsmouth police officer went to the Plattsmouth Veterans of Foreign Wars building Nov. 2 for a report of a robbery. The officer discovered someone had forcibly entered the building and had stolen more than $5,000. Police also found a large amount of property damage inside the establishment during their initial investigation.
Officers began to zero in on McCoy as a possible suspect after they found pieces of a smashed cash register in a dumpster. Surveillance video also captured images of two people walking to and from the VFW several times during the robbery.
Police identified McCoy and interviewed him at his Plattsmouth apartment. They learned McCoy had previously worked at the Plattsmouth VFW and was familiar with the contents of the building. They also found a damaged safe inside his apartment during the interview. McCoy initially told them he had simply found the safe on the street outside, but he soon admitted he had taken it from the VFW.
Officers obtained a search warrant and returned to McCoy’s apartment for a closer inspection. They found a Smith & Wesson nine-millimeter handgun wrapped in United States currency in a closet behind a water heater. The weapon contained a loaded magazine of ammunition.
McCoy told officers he and a 16-year-old co-defendant had not used the handgun during the burglary. He said he came into possession of the weapon five days before the robbery and said someone else had stolen it. Police verified that a handgun with a similar description had been stolen from a parked car in Buccaneer Bay in August 2017.
Cass County Attorney Colin Palm opened his statements Monday by asking the court to order McCoy to pay the Plattsmouth VFW $2,486.77 in restitution. He said McCoy and the juvenile co-defendant had taken $5,337 from the building but a vast majority of that amount had already been recovered. He also said Plattsmouth VFW members had paid $2,000 for an insurance deductible.
Palm said he did not feel McCoy was completely remorseful for his behavior. Palm said McCoy seemed to cast blame on the juvenile co-defendant during a pre-sentence investigation interview. He said McCoy also told probation officers that he had been drinking and had taken pills before committing the robbery.
“In the defendant’s statement to probation, he doesn’t necessarily take full responsibility for his actions,” Palm said. “That is one thing that struck me right away when I read the report.”
Palm asked the court to issue a jail sentence because of the destructive nature of the crime. He said McCoy and the juvenile caused approximately $20,000 worth of damage inside the building in addition to the $5,337 that was stolen. Palm said McCoy was angry with Plattsmouth VFW members because they had terminated his employment after he had failed to show up for work.
“The concern here is the complete disrespect for the VFW and its property,” Palm said.
Defense attorney Julie Bear asked the court to place her client on probation. She said the 16-year-old co-defendant had already received probation during juvenile court proceedings. She also said McCoy had cooperated with police officers and was remorseful for his actions. Bear closed her argument by saying probation would give McCoy a chance to complete an intensive rehabilitation program.
Judge Michael Smith said he was disappointed with McCoy for the vengeful actions taken against the VFW. Smith said he made his sentencing decision with two factors in mind. He said he took McCoy’s young age into account. He also said he felt probation would be the only way McCoy would be able to work and pay back money to the VFW.
Smith ordered McCoy to serve 60 months of probation. McCoy will be required to pay $2,486.77 in restitution and amass 100 hours of community service in that time. He must also abstain from alcohol and drugs, pay all court costs and refrain from any contact with Plattsmouth VFW members.
Smith also issued a long list of additional probation requirements. McCoy must obtain a mental health evaluation and complete classes on appropriate decision-making, employability, financial management and anger management. He must complete moral recognition therapy sessions, attend victim empathy seminars, spend time with a trauma group and submit his DNA to a collection service. McCoy will also be required to complete GED coursework and attend 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Smith warned McCoy about the possible consequences for failing to abide by the probation terms. He said he would be able to send McCoy to prison for 20 years on each count if there were any probation violations.