Cass County Courthouse

PLATTSMOUTH – A Nebraska City woman will spend several months in Cass County Jail after Plattsmouth police found her using drugs while on probation.

Lonisha J. Sterling, 32, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for a sentencing hearing. She admitted violating her probation during a court appearance earlier this year.

Sterling had been placed on probation for a Class IV felony charge of possession of controlled substance-methamphetamine. Plattsmouth police conducted a routine search of her former home in April 2018 and found a broken glass pipe with burnt marijuana residue in a closet. They also found white powdery residue inside an empty cigarette box in a desk.

Sterling told police she had been using methamphetamine, marijuana and the prescription drug Xanax at the residence. She told authorities at the time she was using the drugs as a way to relieve stress.

Cass County Attorney Colin Palm told the court Monday Sterling had changed her story regarding the drugs. Palm said she seemed to minimize her involvement with the substances during a pre-sentence investigation interview.

“She said she had no idea those items were in her house,” Palm said. “That is completely different from what she told authorities at the time. I find that interesting to say the least.”

Palm said Sterling’s criminal history dated back to a 2005 conviction for theft in Otoe County. Her history included convictions for disturbing the peace, possession of both marijuana and methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device. She was sentenced to jail in 2018 for a forgery charge in Cass County.

Palm felt there was a substantial risk Sterling would re-engage in criminal activities if she remained on probation. He asked the court to issue a jail sentence due to her history with law enforcement.

“We’re well beyond someone who is here for their first time,” Palm said. “It seems there is no other sentence that would address this.”

Defense attorney Julie Bear said Sterling wanted to be considered for probation. Bear said her client was on a waiting list for a treatment facility in Omaha. Sterling was also scheduled to begin an outpatient treatment program in Auburn the next day.

“I don’t think the circumstances warrant giving her a statutory sentence,” Bear said. “She will get herself routed down the right road.”

Judge Michael Smith said the large number of offenses over the past 14 years made it necessary to impose a jail sentence. He ordered Sterling to serve 180 days in Cass County Jail. She will also be required to serve 12 months on post-release supervision.

Sterling asked the court to delay the sentence for a short time so she could make childcare arrangements. Smith agreed to her request. Sterling will report to Cass County Jail on Monday, Aug. 12.

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