Jon Worthman is set for his case to advance to District Court after waiving his preliminary hearing in Scotts Bluff County Court on Friday afternoon.
The hearing, which lasted less than two minutes, saw a number of people on hand, including Corey O’Brien, an attorney from the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office who made his way to Gering to appear at Friday’s hearing, and three investigators from the Nebraska State Patrol.
Worthman, who is charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, a class 1D felony, faces up to 50 years in prison if he is found guilty, with a mandatory minimum of two years in prison. The charge arises from an incident on Jan. 7, in which, according to court records, Worthman purchased one ounce of cocaine.
After the transaction was completed, members of WING and the Scottsbluff Police Department contacted Worthman and arrested him. During the arrest, they recovered the controlled substance from Worthman’s vehicle, and seized some of his belongings.
According to court records, Worthman told law enforcement in a later interview, “he believed he would be purchasing at least two eight balls (approximately 7 grams) of cocaine” from the individual. He also, “admitted to receiving cocaine in the past in exchange for legal services, as well as purchasing and using the illegal substance himself.”
Worthman, who served as the Box Butte County Public Defender, was placed on leave by the county. The Box Butte County Commissioners, according to Commissioner Mike McGinnis in an interview, allowed him to delay his resignation until July 31 so that he can maintain his health insurance benefits from the county.
At the commissioners meeting on Feb. 18, the board appointed Darin Knepper to serve as the interim public defender until July 31. He is set to begin his duties on Feb. 29.
Worthman is scheduled to appear in Scotts Bluff County District Court on March 6.