LINCOLN — Two former employees of the Beatrice State Developmental Center will each spend several months in jail for their roles in abusing mentally disabled residents last summer.
Gage County District Judge Paul Korslund on Wednesday sentenced Cody Creek to 240 days in jail and Carmen Yates to 180 days in jail. They each pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor charge of attempted abuse of a vulnerable adult.
Creek, 24, of Beatrice, initially was charged with felony counts of abuse and strangulation. Yates, 24, of Beatrice, was charged with felony abuse and a misdemeanor theft charge.
The state dismissed the strangulation and theft charges and reduced the felonies to misdemeanors after Creek and Yates agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. Creek and Yates faced a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
Although state investigators determined they both were candidates for probation, the judge said Wednesday that anything less than jail time would have diminished the seriousness of their crimes, said Gage County Attorney Roger Harris.
The defendants will serve their time at the Gage County Jail starting Monday. Both have jobs so the judge will allow them to apply for work release.
They are two of five former state caregivers charged after an investigation last year at the residential center for people with severe mental retardation, physical disabilities and other medical issues. The judge called residents of the Beatrice center among the most vulnerable members of society.
Two weeks ago, Korslund ordered prison sentences for Cameron Barnes, 22, and Matthew Johnson, 28, former caregivers who pleaded guilty to felony abuse charges.
On July 12, a jury convicted the fifth former employee, Matthew Pangborn, 31, of nine felony counts of abuse and strangulation. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3.
Yates took the witness stand against Pangborn, while Creek was prepared to do so if called upon by the state, Harris said.
As a provision of the plea bargains, the prosecution agreed not to recommend sentences for Creek and Yates.
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