One of the cattle theft suspects who was apprehended yesterday made his first court appearance today.
Benjamin D. Johnson, 27 of St. Edward, appeared in Antelope County Court without an attorney before Judge Donna Farrell Taylor on Wednesday on felony cattle theft charges.
Johnson is charged with theft-deception (over $1,500, Class III felony), attempt of a Class III felony (Class IV felony) and theft-unlawful taking (over $1,500, Class III felony).
Counts one and three (Class III felonies) are punishable by up to $25,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. The second count is punishable by up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison.
Taylor set Johnson's bond at 10 percent of $100,000. He is currently being held at the Antelope County Jail.
Johnson filed an affidavit seeking a court appointed attorney, citing unemployment since April. Taylor granted his request and appointed Martin Klein of the public offender's office.
Johnson also requested to speak to his attorney to request a bond reduction. Taylor said, "We will leave it set where it is now. Your attorney, Martin Klein, can let me know if you need a bond hearing date."
The arraignment and preliminary hearing was scheduled for August 20 at 4 p.m. Custody was remanded back to the Antelope County Sheriff.
The alleged actions were to have taken place between Feb. 26 and June 24. According to a probable cause affidavit filed by Antelope County Sheriff Bob Moore, Johnson and Rebecca M. (Bree) Robbins, 27 of Lyons were on the run immediately after information was made public on the theft of 35 cattle and 40 calves from Wilbur Rakow of rural Neligh.
The cattle were returned to Rakow immediately after the Columbus couple who purchased the cattle was notified that they were stolen.
According to the affidavit, Johnson admitted to Moore that he tried to help Robbins load cattle on May 19. He told Moore that he believed Robbins owned the cattle.
Robbins is currently being held in the Platte County Jail.