Pumping Gas

PLATTSMOUTH – A man who tried to use stolen gift cards to buy gas at a Plattsmouth convenience store was sentenced to probation Monday morning.

Omaha resident Jorge D. Sardinas, 43, appeared in Cass County District Court for sentencing on one Class IIA felony charge of criminal possession of four or more financial transaction devices. The court found Sardinas guilty of the charge during a stipulated bench trial on Aug. 25. Sardinas has spent the past 237 days in Cass County Jail.

A Plattsmouth police officer was dispatched to Hy-Vee Gas on March 15 regarding the theft of gas from the store using stolen credit cards. The officer reviewed surveillance video and noticed a male was buying diesel fuel and putting it into an auxiliary fuel tank in the bed of his pickup truck. The male was wearing a jacket with a distinctive logo on it.

The officer returned to Hy-Vee Gas later that day and saw a male wearing a jacket with a logo that was similar to the one he saw on the surveillance video. The same man was pumping more diesel fuel into the auxiliary fuel tank in the pickup truck. Deputy County Attorney Richard Fedde told the court the man pumped $113.50 worth of fuel into the tank.

The Plattsmouth officer approached the man and asked him how he was paying for the fuel. The man removed his wallet and took out a Wal-Mart gift card. Fedde said the officer became suspicious because Wal-Mart gift cards can only be used to purchase merchandise from Wal-Mart stores. The officer took the gift card inside and confirmed that Hy-Vee Gas would not accept it as a means of payment.

The officer returned to the vehicle and obtained the identification of Sardinas. The officer checked a law enforcement database and learned there was an active warrant for Sardinas’ arrest. The officer also learned Sardinas was operating the pickup truck with a suspended driver’s license.

The officer placed Sardinas under arrest after learning about the warrant and suspended driver’s license. A second officer came to Hy-Vee Gas and helped search Sardinas’ pickup truck before it was impounded and towed away. The officers located four additional gift cards wedged between a board and the auxiliary fuel tank. Fedde said the other four items all had Visa credit card numbers and the names of other people on them.

Fedde asked the court to issue a jail sentence in the case. He said Sardinas had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1997 and 2013. He said Sardinas had also been sentenced to 135 months of incarceration in 2003 on a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute amphetamine.

Defense attorney Julie Bear asked the court for a probation sentence. She said Sardinas had been satisfactorily released from probation in the 1997 DUI case. She said her client had also successfully completed five years of post-release supervision in the 2003 federal case.

Interim District Court Judge Paul Korslund said he took into account the fact that Sardinas had been in jail since March 15. He also said a probation sentence would involve multiple requirements because of the nature of the offense.

“These crimes were not violent crimes but they were very serious crimes, and they involved some thought on your part,” Korslund said. “But there were errors in your judgment thinking you could get away with this type of thing with gift cards.”

Korslund ordered Sardinas to complete 36 months of probation. Sardinas must pay $113.50 in restitution to Hy-Vee Gas by Jan. 2 and pay all court costs by Feb. 1. He must obtain a chemical dependency evaluation within 30 days and enroll in moral recognition therapy classes. Korslund also ordered him to become a member of a positive civic group.