His jaw dropped. He looked at his relatives in stunned disbelief.
The Omaha man — 19 when he committed his crimes — had just told a judge that his life hit a turning point after he had sat in jail for the past seven months, thinking about his crime of helping another teen use an online dating service to lure seven men to be robbed.
Jordan L. Kellogg had just heard that a probation officer recommended that he be placed on intensive probation for the four robberies to which he had pleaded no contest.
Then Judge Mark Ashford pronounced his sentence: 24 to 40 years in prison.
Translation: Kellogg, now 20, must serve 12 to 20 years in prison for helping to lure the men to northeast Omaha on the pretense of meeting up with a woman they believed that they had met on the Plenty of Fish dating app.
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” a relative wailed as Kellogg was led out of court.
She turned to Kellogg’s attorney.
“What just happened?” she asked, anguished.
The judge ignored “every recommendation the probation office gave,” assistant public defender Leslie Cavanaugh told her.
Ashford said he had read the presentence investigation report — which details a crime, the defendant’s background and several tests designed to determine whether he will offend again. The report included that Kellogg has bipolar disorder. And it included Kellogg’s regret over his actions and the effect they had on the victims.
The probation officer’s recommendation: Place Kellogg on probation for five years.
No way, the judge said. Ashford noted other details in the report: that Kellogg had a weapons possession charge as a juvenile. He had another stolen gun charge in 2017 that was reduced to a misdemeanor.
“I’m shocked by the probation office’s recommendation in this case,” Ashford said.
Kellogg was shocked by the sentence. Cavanaugh had mentioned that Kellogg is in a much better state after receiving medication for bipolar disorder.
Kellogg had told the judge that he wasn’t in a gang, though several of his neighborhood friends are gang members. He had told the judge that he has learned to surround himself with “positive people” — and will do so when he goes free.
“This whole situation has been like a turnaround for my life,” Kellogg said. “I’m not the kind of person who goes out and robs people and gangbangs.”
Kellogg said he wanted to help raise his infant daughter, who was playing with a rattle in court.
“You should have thought about your daughter before you committed the robberies,” Ashford said.
Ashford cited one group of people Kellogg didn’t mention in his apology Monday: the victims. Seven men had gone to the meetings near Miller Park thinking that they would have sex with a woman they met on the dating app.
When they arrived, they were greeted by a gun — or something that looked like a gun. Police weren’t sure. The robbers collected their money, cellphones and, in some cases, marijuana the men had brought along.
Cavanaugh said the scheme was the brainchild of Kellogg’s co-defendant, Janonta Liggins. Liggins, 19, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Ashford expressed outrage that Kellogg didn’t mention the victims during his statement to the judge.
At that, Cavanaugh piped up. She noted that Kellogg previously apologized, telling a probation officer that he was “mortified” by this “spree of catfishing.”
“This is not who he wants his child to know as a father,” she said.
Ashford cut her off.
“But he didn’t (apologize) today,” Ashford said. “I’m talking about today.”
The judge said that all the men were traumatized and that having a gun pointed in one’s face can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The damage that can be done to a victim is overwhelming,” Ashford said. “It’s something they never forget.”