NEBRASKA CITY — Lancaster County Treasurer Andy Stebbing, who succumbed to challengers in the primary election while facing five felony charges related to his private sale of vehicles, pleaded to reduced charges here Thursday.
Stebbing, 54, pleaded no contest to attempting to provide false information on a bill of sale and two counts of attempting to act as an unlicensed motor vehicle dealer.
In exchange, the prosecutor, Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Barb Armstead, dropped the felony charges, which would have prevented Stebbing, a former Lancaster County sheriff's deputy, from possessing firearms or running for political office in Nebraska.
He now faces up to a year in jail on each charge when Johnson County District Judge Julie Smith sentences him here Nov. 7.
The Nebraska Attorney General's Office filed the case in Lancaster County, but a judge outside the county, Smith, was appointed to preside due to a conflict of interest with Lincoln judges.
Stebbing had been nearing trial when, last Friday, counsel on both sides asked that the matter be continued so he could enter a plea. Smith originally set the hearing for Nov. 1 in Lincoln, but the date was pushed up after attorneys suggested coming to her.
Stebbing said he was thankful that the agreement saves both himself and the taxpayers the additional expense of time and money that would've come with a jury trial.
“We’re pleased with the outcome,” he said in the hallway outside the courtroom. “It’s nice to have the relief that it’s over.”
He said he also had a sense of vindication that he was able to plead no contest to three misdemeanors, bringing the case to conclusion, and commended the attorney general's office for coming to the resolution. He said he was thankful, too, for those who stayed by him, including his wife, Erika, who was at Thursday's hearing.
During the hearing, Stebbing told the judge he understood the charges and the possible penalties and wished to plead no contest. Then, Armstead offered a factual basis as an exhibit, rather than reading the facts that supported his plea into the record.
Much of the original allegations remained.
Prosecutors say Stebbing was selling vehicles as a business without a dealer's license, using Craigslist and Facebook to sell 12 vehicles in a 12-month period and trying to sell a 13th, and that he didn't report the accurate amount on the bill of sale of one of the vehicles.
Under state law, anyone who sells more than eight vehicles in a 12-month span must register with the state as a dealer.
The biggest difference is that prosecutors dropped two charges alleging that he had filed false income tax returns and a third charge alleging he had falsified a bill of sale, all felonies.
Stebbing was elected county treasurer in 2010 and won re-election in 2014 before running for Lincoln mayor in 2015 and losing to Chris Beutler. Stebbing's pursuit of a third term as county treasurer ended in May, when he came in third place in the Republican primary behind Allen Simpson and Matt Schulte, the ultimate nominee.
Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether Schulte or Democrat Rachel Garver will be Stebbing's replacement.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Stebbing said of his future: "I am eager to continue to carry out the remainder of my term as Lancaster County Treasurer as well as plan for my next step without further distraction."