PLATTSMOUTH – A Plattsmouth man will spend 36 months on probation for riding in a car with methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Joseph M. Hofler, 30, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for sentencing on one Class IV felony charge. A jury found him guilty of possession of controlled substance-methamphetamine during a trial in April.
Hofler had also originally been charged with a Class I misdemeanor of theft-receiving stolen property $500-$1,500. Prosecutors decided to dismiss that charge shortly before the trial.
Deputy County Attorney Steven Sunde told the court Hofler had been riding in a car with a woman after midnight on Nov. 3. Authorities stopped the vehicle in the southern part of Plattsmouth. They conducted a probable-cause search and found methamphetamine pipes and other drug-related items.
Sunde said he was disappointed with Hofler’s response to the situation. Sunde said Hofler had initially blamed the female for having the drugs. He said he also did not respond to multiple phone calls and letters from probation officials.
“He has not taken any responsibility for this even though a jury of his peers found him guilty,” Sunde said.
Sunde said Hofler’s criminal history also merited attention. Hofler was convicted of possession of marijuana in 2004 and received his first driving under the influence of alcohol conviction in 2006. He was arrested for procuring alcohol for a minor, aggravated DUI and possession of methamphetamine over the next decade. He was also charged with driving under suspension five times between 2016-18.
“I believe the risk is substantial that during the course of probation he would engage in criminal behavior,” Sunde said. “He has rejected everything about the process so far.”
Defense attorney Michael Ziskey told the court he felt Hofler would not receive any rehabilitation services if he was sent to prison. He felt probation would give his client a much better chance of obtaining treatment. He said it would also save money and would allow local officials to keep a closer eye on Hofler.
“Probation is going to be more effective and it’s going to be more cost-effective,” Ziskey said.
Judge Michael Smith questioned Hofler about his actions during a previous term on post-release supervision. Smith said he would issue a more intensive form of Specialized Substance Abuse Supervision (SSAS) probation because of Hofler’s previous behavior.
Smith ordered Hofler to serve 36 months on probation. He must obtain a chemical dependency evaluation within 30 days and successfully complete many SSAS terms. He will be required to pay a $250 fine, submit to random drug testing, abstain from alcohol and drugs and attend cognitive therapy group meetings.
Smith warned Hofler he would have no other option but imprisonment if the SSAS probation did not work out.
“There won’t be a lot of mercy if you don’t follow through,” Smith said.