A Fremont man was sentenced on Monday to two years in prison for shoplifting and illegally possessing a weapon, during a tense Dodge County District Court hearing that elicited an angry response from Judge Geoffrey Hall.
Jeremy E. Rousseau, 39, was sentenced to two years on two separate charges: possession of a deadly weapon as a prohibited person, a class III felony; and theft by unlawful taking as a third offense, a class IV felony. He received two years on each charge, and the sentences will be served concurrently.
Rousseau pleaded no contest to the charges in June as part of a plea agreement where several other charges were dropped, including several other theft charges, as well as a habitual criminal charge, which extends sentences for individuals who have been convicted of multiple felonies.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Sara Sopinski recommended the prison sentence, arguing that the presumption of probation that comes with class III and class IV felonies was overcome because Rousseau had failed to appear at a previous hearing, which led to a warrant for his arrest. Similarly, Rousseau failed to participate in a pre-sentence investigation aimed at determining his eligibility for probation.
Hall appeared to agree, claiming that Rousseau “decided to blow off the court.”
Rousseau’s attorney, Avis Andrews, argued that the failure to appear came as he dealt with “severe medical issues” and that probation would help him get additional treatment.
Hall offered Rousseau a chance to address the court, and Rousseau began, saying, “I didn’t blow the courts off,” but Hall interrupted.
“You have blown off the court repeatedly,” Hall said, his voice rising. “You have been a burden to this county, you’ve cost the county thousands and thousands of dollars. You continue to violate the law. If I had the power, I’d give you a one-way bus ticket somewhere else.”
When Rousseau said that he intended on living somewhere else, Hall replied, firmly: “Don’t come back.”
Hall said that Rousseau’s long criminal history was the result of his own choices, and Rousseau replied: “Maybe it’s your law enforcement harassing me.”
“That’s the problem,” Hall said sarcastically. “Not you and your failure to comply with the law.”
Just before sentencing was pronounced, Rousseau told Hall that he felt he had made some positive changes before he was arrested.
“That’s what I’ll continue to do after I get done with this,” he said.
Hall reiterated that Rousseau should “start over” somewhere else and not return to Dodge County.
Rousseau’s charges stemmed from two separate arrests. The first occurred in June 2017, when he was caught shoplifting at a Tractor Supply and Wal-Mart. After his arrest, it was subsequently revealed that he had been responsible for several other thefts at stores like Bomgaars and Menards, and that he had been convicted on theft charges multiple times prior.
The possession of a deadly weapon charge came from during an October 2017 incident, when Rousseau was pulled over while operating a motor vehicle. According to a police affidavit, Rousseau attempted to escape the scene on foot but was ultimately apprehended, though the charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer were ultimately dropped in plea negotiations.
A subsequent search of Rousseau’s vehicle uncovered a switchblade knife, which Rousseau is prohibited from possessing due to past felony convictions.
Rousseau received credit for 217 days previously served. If Rousseau receives all possible Good Time, he will serve a total of one year.
In other district court news from Monday:
*A decision on the sentencing of Marty Spor, 23, was delayed after a discussion about whether he should receive probation or prison time. Spor previously pleaded guilty to a class IV felony of possession of tetrahydrocannabinol, and during a pre-sentence investigation, he indicated to the probation office that he wasn’t interested in probation, the state argued. “He has concerns about how probation is going to fit into his schedule,” said Deputy Dodge County Attorney Emily Beamis, citing the pre-sentence investigation report. The state was seeking an 18-month prison sentence.
Spor’s attorney, Jim Dake, argued that Spor did in fact want probation so he could address issues with substance abuse. A substance abuse evaluation from Lutheran Family Services submitted to the court on Monday suggested that Spor would do best getting treatment in an outpatient setting, Dake argued. But Hall believed that Spor had waited too long to get the substance abuse evaluation — a notion which both Dake and Spor disagreed with — and questioned whether or not probation would be “delaying the inevitable” of an eventual prison sentence.
Spor said that getting probation and treatment was important because he had a young child that he wanted to be there for. Hall ultimately decided to continue the case to see how Spor reacted to treatment — “If I see some progress, I’ll give a hard look at probation,” he said.
*Calburt Sheets, 64, pleaded guilty to manufacturing a controlled substance, marijuana, as part of a plea agreement and will be applying to drug court. Sheets reportedly called police on July 5 to report a theft of firearms, but when police arrived and wanted to search his residence, he admitted that he had marijuana. Officers found 98 marijuana plants “in various stages of growth.”