Martese Roland

Martese Roland 

The Nebraska State Patrol was never in a position to track down at least one felon who was released from prison too soon.

The reason? Prison records administrator Kyle Poppert never handed over the inmate’s name.

As a result, the State of Nebraska had no knowledge that a felon being sought here was then arrested on suspicion of six felonies in Illinois, bailed out and was scheduled for a court hearing.

Martese Roland should be serving his Nebraska sentence until late November for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Instead, he was released in November 2013 after the state — using a faulty sentencing formula — miscalculated his release date.

The World-Herald reported Sunday that Roland’s name was given to the State Patrol’s Fusion Center, as was the case with other prisoners who could not be found.

Turns out that was incorrect, a prison official said Monday. Roland’s name never got that far.

“Nobody else needs to be taking any blame for anything,” said Dawn Renee Smith, a legislative liaison for the Department of Corrections. “We don’t want there to be information looking like some other agency dropped the ball. That is absolutely not the case.”

Roland was investigated by a corrections employee July 2 and again July 8, Smith said. The investigator found that Roland had obtained a state identification card and listed an Omaha address. The information didn’t help locate Roland, she said.

At that point, the records administration department should have handed the information it had to the State Patrol, she said.

“Records administration didn’t follow up,” she said.

Specifically, she said, that duty fell to records administrator Poppert.

Poppert had been given the task of managing that hand-off of information, she said.

Poppert was suspended for 10 days without pay in August for his role in the miscalculation of hundreds of prison sentences. He was among four corrections employees implicated in the sentencing mess following a personnel probe by an Omaha law firm.

A follow-up report by the U.S. Department of Justice said Poppert admitted that he didn’t understand how to calculate prison sentences — a major function of the records department — and that he didn’t attend department training sessions and failed to ensure that the department was following a 2013 ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

As a result of that report, Poppert’s job status was again under review by State Corrections Director Mike Kenney.

Roland, meanwhile, was scheduled to appear in court Monday in Chicago on six felony weapons counts. Reached Monday afternoon, a Chicago court employee said the docket had not been updated to reflect the outcome of his case.

Contact the writer: 402-444-3144, matt.wynn@owh.com

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