A 55-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of third degree domestic assault as a second offense in district court on Monday.
The man, Gerald S. Albers, previously filed a written not guilty plea, but after reaching a plea agreement with the state, agreed to plea to charges in an amended information. As part of the agreement, the state would not resist if the court were to move to impose a sentence of probation, said Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass.
Third degree domestic assault is traditionally treated as a misdemeanor, but in this case, was elevated to a Class IIIA felony because it was Albers’ second offense
Albers was arrested on Feb. 3 after he assaulted his wife after becoming upset in the couple’s Fremont residence. Albers grabbed his wife by the neck and pushed her into a kitchen table, according to an account read in court, which Albers pled to.
After the victim got away, Albers followed her and “made a fist as if he was going to punch her in the face” and then threw his cell phone at her chest, according to the account, which was read by Glass.
Albers, a veteran who receives disability from the VA, also had his bond reduced from $25,000 with a 10 percent option to $15,000 with a 10 percent option. His defense attorney, Kenny Jacobs said that Albers would be going to the VA for “potential sinus surgery” and speak about a prior diagnosis of PTSD. Jacobs was hoping to have Albers released on his own recognizance, but District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall only agreed to modify the bond “to some extent.”
The state opposed a bond modification, citing a long criminal record centered on alcohol-related incidents, including several DUIs, as well as “assaultive type behaviors.”
Glass argued that “at least two of the prior domestic assaults” had been carried out against the same victim.
“There is a protection order still in place, but we all know that could be violated,” Glass said. “I just think the bond is appropriate especially because of this really difficult, strained relationship between these two folks.”
In other district court news:
*Edward Varejcka, 34, had a bond reduction request denied. Varejcka has been held in jail since April 7 on a bond of $25,000 with a 10 percent option. His attorney, Leo Eskey, was hoping to modify the bond to $10,000 with a 10 percent option. Deputy Dodge County Attorney Sara Sopinski said that the charges stem from an April 7 incident where Varejcka was allegedly discovered possessing brass knuckles and marijuana as well as drug paraphernalia. He is eligible to be prosecuted as a “habitual criminal,” a facet of Nebraska law that can add 10 years to a sentence if an offender has committed prior felonies. As the Fremont Tribune reported previously, Varejcka was habitual criminal eligible during a 2016 trial, where he was acquitted by Hall of felony charges of strangulation and assault. His prior felonies include assaulting an officer in 2010 and false imprisonment in 2015.
*Robert Bonanata, 29, had his case continued until July 2 after last-minute confusion quashed a plea agreement. Bonanata is facing charges related to July 2017 incident, where he sped away from a police officer during a traffic stop and ended up striking two houses near the intersection of Gaeth and Lincoln Avenue. After Sopinski read the plea agreement, which, she claimed, stipulated that in exchange for a plea to the charges, Bonanata would be sentenced to 90 days incarceration and a two-year license revocation, Bonanata spoke up in court, claiming that the agreement read in court was not correct. After a brief discussion, Bonanata’s attorney, Avis Andrews said that there was a “miscommunication between me and my client” and Hall granted Bonanata a continuance to next week so that the attorneys could sort the matter out. Sopinski said that while the state “does not object to a continuance,” she added that the “plea agreement is no longer on the table.”
*Bradley Bridges, 43, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine as part of a plea agreement with the Dodge County Attorney’s office. His bond was reduced to $5,000 with a 10 percent option and he will be applying to drug court.