Former deputy pleads guilty to felony; could get prison term

Former Richardson County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Nincehelser, of Dawson, has pled guilty to a felony charge of criminal mischief and misdemeanor charge of false reporting and in exchange two misdemeanors (official misconduct and obstructing government operations) were dropped as part of a plea agreement reached with special prosecutor Kyle Burdick in Richardson County District Court last week. 

Nincehelser, who last summer posted 10 percent of a $50,000 cash bond, appeared in District Court last Tuesday. He will be sentenced on Dec. 16 and faces up to five years in prison and could be fined up to $10,000. 

Nincehelser was charged for reporting to dispatchers on June 9 that he had been shot by an unidentified man when he stopped his patrol vehicle to see if a motorist parked on a county road needed assistance. Following the investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol in cooperation with the Richardson County Sheriff’s Office, the 25-year-old deputy admitted to shooting himself in the arm and firing several shots into his patrol pickup, admitting there was no stranded motorist.

Nebraska State Patrol investigators one day after the incident plotted the trajectories of the bullets that struck Nincehelser’s vehicle and determined that the bullets were fired from a higher point than could’ve been possible if fired by a person seated in a car. Later, shell casings found at the scene were determined to have been fired by two different guns, though both weapons  proved to be property of the Richardson County Sheriff’s Office. Forensic technicians determined that the .40 caliber shell casing claimed by Nincehelser to be fired by the unknown assailant had actually been fired by his department-issued pistol. It was retrieved, from Nincehelser, on June 12.

When confronted about the shell casings and questionable trajectories of the bullets, Nincehelser, according to the arrest affidavit, confessed that the entire thing had been staged and he had falsely radioed his emergency to dispatch.

Houser said that Nincehelser’s admission included a motive, but would not divulge that information with this reporter.

Houser, who recognized Nincehelser, a 2007 Humboldt-TR-S High School graduate, with a certificate of commendation just one year ago, was noticeably disheartened when reached by phone shortly after the arrest Friday, and similarly doleful Monday. The ordeal comes on the heels of a primary election loss and marrs the last few months of his term.

“We all feel betrayed,” he said. “This is someone we were close to and believed in.

“I – we – have to depend on these guys.”

Shortly after signaling to his deputy for Nincehelser’s Monday court appearance, Houser himself retrieved his former deputy and escorted him to County Court for a bond reduction hearing. Maschman denied the request and Nincehelser as of Monday evening remained in Richardson County jail on $50,000 bond (10 percent allowable). He faces felony charges of criminal mischief and use of a firearm to commit a felony, as well as misdemeanor charges of false reporting, obstructing government operations and abuse of public records. He is set to be arraigned in County Court at 10 a.m. Monday, July 14.

“He has lost so much, his pension and job,” Houser said. “He had so much promise and opportunity. He is tremendously disappointed and embarrassed.”

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