1 in 3 Americans Now Live in a State , Where Recreational Marijuana Is Legal. Voters in four states approved ballot measures to legalize marijuana on Election Day. 16 million residents of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota . now join the 93 million Americans who already lived in states where cannabis had been legalized. Several other states were expected to pass similar measures, but campaigns failed due to issues created by the pandemic. Advocates say that the move toward legalization in both red and blue states demands uniform action from the federal government. Regardless of who controls the White House, the House and the Senate, we should demand landmark federal marijuana reform in 2021, Steve Hawkins, Marijuana Policy Project, via Politico. Advocates also consider the passage of marijuana legalization ballots as victories for criminal justice reform
Nebraska State Patrol troopers arrested a Florida man after a traffic stop that uncovered more than 400 pounds of marijuana stashed inside ATMs, a safe and a tote.
About 10 a.m. Friday, a trooper saw that the driver of a Mercedes sprinter van failed to use a turn signal when exiting Interstate 80 at Giltner, which is southeast of Grand Island. The trooper pulled the van over.
A patrol K-9 then indicated that a controlled substance was in the van.
Troopers found 14 ATMs, a large safe and a plastic tote that were full of packages of marijuana, a patrol spokesman said. The Grand Island Fire Department helped open the ATMs and the safe.
The total weight of the marijuana packages was 426 pounds, the spokesman said. About $9,000 also was found inside a duffel bag in the front seat.
A 36-year-old man from Cooper City, Florida, was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver and possession of money during a drug violation.
Notable Nebraska crime news of 2021
Local connection to the Capitol riot
Omaha native Brandon Straka, who authorities say is pictured here, was one of the people arrested after the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol. He was released from custody and is awaiting his preliminary hearing.
An $11 million scam
Craig Harbaugh, a former Dodge County sheriff's deputy, pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to one count of wire fraud. He set up and gun dealership, then bilked a bank and his investors out of $11 million.
The saga of Oliver Glass
Embattled Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass, center, resigned on March 1. In the latest episode of his yearlong legal saga, he was found guilty of a probation violation and will be charged with a second DUI.
Former Omaha gym owner convicted
Douglas Anders was found guilty in February of first-degree sexual assault. The judge said the evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Anders coerced a teenage trainee into sex.
Former coach, security guard accused of rape
A woman who is now 21 says Ronald Powell, who was then a security guard at Omaha North High School, sexually assaulted her in a closet at the school in 2015, when she was 15. Powell was charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child and is awaiting trial.
The sentencing of Aubrey Trail
A three-judge panel met in March to hear arguments on whether Aubrey Trail should be sentenced to death or life in prison for the murder of Sydney Loofe. The sentencing date will be set later.
Shooting of Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck
Omaha Police Officer Jeffrey Wittstruck was shot in the face and the top of the head on March 12 at the J.C. Penney at Westroads Mall. The accused shooter's bail was set at $10 million.
Drunk driver sentenced for fatal crash
Kenisha Prentice will serve about six years to about 13 years in prison for a crash that killed one man and left another with brain damage. The family of the survivor thought the sentence was too light. It was Prentice's second drunken driving conviction.
Man acquitted in 2016 drive-by killing
Otis Walker was found not guilty in the slaying of Markeise Dunn in March, almost two years after Walker's first trial in the case ended in a mistrial.
Woman accused in slayings of two men
Police say Autum Acacia-Cortes strangled Francisco Santiago to death in late December 2020 or early January 2021, then sliced the throat of Jose C. Martinez because he was telling others about the first slaying. She will stand trial on two counts of first-degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and tampering with evidence.
Gang member not getting off easy
Fabian Inda, who was sentenced to only three years in prison in a torture case in 2017, will serve at least 10 years and as many as 60 for being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was convicted in March and will be sentenced in May.
Man sentenced in debit card scheme
Over four days in 2016, Randall Hillman stole $33,241 from an Alliance ATM and tried to steal another $36,216. In March, he was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in restitution and fines.
Death row inmate dies at 55
Arthur Lee Gales, who killed two children in Omaha in 2000, died April 3 at the Tecumseh State Prison. Under state law, a grand jury is required to investigate his death.
Former Husker Katerian LeGrone acquitted
Katerian LeGrone, a former Husker football player, was found not guilty of first-degree sexual assault in April. The jury deliberated for about three hours in the case, in which LeGrone was accused of raping a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student in August 2019.
Man convicted in fatal crash
Garrett Bragg, 18, was found guilty of misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide in April in the death of a concrete truck driver. The prosecution said the actions of the victim, Gregory Brennan, saved Bragg's life in the October 2020 crash on Nebraska Highway 370.
Man pleads no contest to killing sex offender
James Fairbanks contemplated a self-defense claim in April, almost a year after he shot and killed convicted sex offender Mattieo Condoluci, but he ultimately pleaded no contest.
“There are a lot of criminals in the world. You don’t get to confront them and then try to claim self-defense," said Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle.
Douglas County landfill scheme
Five workers at the Douglas County landfill and two business owners who dump waste there are accused of conspiracy to commit theft. Authorities say employees undercharged some dumpers, who in turn paid the employees.
Shooting at Westroads Mall
A man was fatally shot and a woman was wounded at Westroads Mall on April 17, about a month after a police officer was shot at the mall, the site of Omaha's worst mass shooting in 2007. A 16-year-old Omaha boy is being held without bail. His 18-year-old brother was charged with being an accessory to a felony.
Convicted murderer, child molester dies
Patrick Ronald Russell, who was serving a 110- to 126-year prison sentence, died in April. He killed 8-year-old
Joseph "Poogie" Edmonds in Omaha in the 1970s. Read more.
Golf cart rustling
Thieves have absconded with eight golf carts worth more than $50,000 from Omaha courses.
“We’ve heard this is going on up and down the I-80 corridor,” said Bob Baber, the city's golf manager. Read more.