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Cass County Courthouse photo

PLATTSMOUTH – A South Dakota man will spend time in the Nebraska Department of Corrections for failing to follow his Cass County probation terms.

Harrisburg, S.D., resident Christopher W. Hughes, 22, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for a plea hearing. He admitted in January that he had violated multiple probation requirements over the past two years.

Hughes was arrested in June 2016 after he and a co-defendant drove into the Platte River rest area on Interstate 80 in Cass County. Nebraska State Patrol troopers were in the rest area’s parking lot at the time. They became suspicious because neither Hughes nor the co-defendant left the car to use the facilities.

Troopers approached the vehicle and smelled the odor of marijuana. They obtained permission to search the car and discovered 14 bundles of marijuana in the trunk, front seat and rear seat. The bundles contained 14.68 pounds of marijuana.

Hughes later pled guilty to a Class IIIA felony charge of attempted possession of controlled substance with intent to deliver-marijuana. He began serving 36 months of probation in January 2017.

Deputy County Attorney Richard Fedde told the court he felt prison time was appropriate for Hughes because of several probation violations. Cass County authorities said Hughes had failed to report to required treatment sessions and had not remained in contact with South Dakota probation employees. They also said he had not been appearing for required drug tests in South Dakota.

Hughes was arrested in Sioux Falls, S.D., in September 2017. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana-less than one ounce, possession of marijuana-two ounces or less, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of controlled substance-vyvanse.

Fedde said Hughes had also failed to appear at a scheduled jury trial in South Dakota this past year. He felt that was not a good sign for the possibility of keeping the status quo of probation in the case.

“I certainly think that goes to his ability to continue on probation,” Fedde said. “He has had a general lack of concern for remaining on probation and doing the things you need to do while on probation.”

Defense attorney Julie Bear said she felt the court could create a longer probation sentence for Hughes that would help him with his marijuana addiction. She said every entry on his criminal history document involved marijuana-related offenses.

Bear said Hughes has been attending intensive outpatient treatment sessions three times each week and 12-step meetings twice a week. She said extending his probation term for 36 months would help him continue making progress.

“I think he’s trying to address the issue that’s brought him to this place,” Bear said.

Judge Michael Smith said he was worried about the number of charges Hughes had accumulated in the past three years. He said he did not feel Hughes could be supervised in an effective manner on probation and said he was likely to re-offend.

Smith ordered Hughes to serve 18 months in the Nebraska Department of Corrections. He will receive credit for 121 days he served after he was initially arrested in 2016. Hughes will also be required to pay all court costs and serve 18 months of post-release supervision.

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