An Alliance public defender accused of drug charges has been arraigned on charges.
Jon Worthman, of Gering, had been arrested on Jan. 8 on a charge of possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, not less than 10 grams but not more than 28 grams, a Class ID felony. He appeared for the first time on the charge in Scotts Bluff County Court Friday.
Worthman had been arrested by officers and investigators with the WING drug task force. In court documents, authorities allege an informant sold about an ounce of cocaine to Worthman on Jan. 7 during a controlled buy. The transaction allegedly involved an arrangement for Worthman to get two eight balls of cocaine, or about 7 grams of cocaine, during the transaction.
After the transaction was complete, investigators with the WING task force and Scottsbluff Police Department arrested Worthman and recovered cocaine from his vehicle. Police interviewed Worthman and they allege that they obtained evidence he had exchanged cocaine in the past for legal services and purchased and used cocaine himself.
Scottsbluff attorney Maren Chaloupka, who is representing Worthman, told the Star-Herald after his arrest: “We are going to be vigorously defending these charges. There is more to the story than what has been reported so far.”
According to court documents, Worthman’s attorney filed a motion on Jan. 9 seeking to stop authorities from reviewing Worthman’s phone, which was seized during his arrest. The defense cited Worthman’s position as a public defender as cause to prevent the review of the data, saying it would unfairly prejudice clients with cases currently pending in the 12th Judicial District.
The defense sought to have the records reviewed by a third party to ensure that attorney-client privilege of Worthman’s defense clients is not compromised. The motion was granted, pending a further hearing to determine appropriate arrangements. Court documents don’t indicate if a third party has been named to review those records.
In another filing, Worthman also sought release of a vehicle, which authorities seized during his arrest, as well as personal items including his vehicle, sunglasses and a checkbook. A hearing on the release of those items was held as part of proceedings Friday, and the judge granted release of the personal items. Release of Worthman’s truck has been denied.
Worthman is next scheduled to be appear in Scotts Bluff County Court on Feb. 21 for a preliminary hearing. During a preliminary hearing, authorities present evidence outlining the case against a defendant and a judge determines if there is probable cause for the case to be bound over to district court for trial.
Bond in the case has been set at $150,000 and Worthman had already been released after posting bond shortly after his arrest.