Sidney police chief has 30 days to appeal jail sentence

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) - A judge has given a western Nebraska police chief 30 days to file a brief appealing his monthlong jail sentence.

The judge issued the 30-day timeline Friday during a brief hearing in the case of Sidney Police Chief B.J. Wilkinson, The Sidney Sun Telegraph reported ( ). Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Doug Warner, who has been appointed a special prosecutor in the case, will then have one week to respond.

Wilkinson pleaded no contest and was convicted last month of obstructing government operations. He was sentenced to 30 days in Cheyenne County Jail, and was to have begun serving the sentence Monday. But that jail time was put on hold when Wilkinson’s attorney, Thomas Sonntag, filed a motion challenging the sentence.

The charge stems from what state prosecutors say was Wilkinson’s failure to pursue criminal charges against city Public Works Director John Hehnke, after Hehnke’s ex-girlfriend filed a complaint in January 2014 against Hehnke.

A subsequent Nebraska State Patrol investigation turned up an email Wilkinson had written in which he admitted to pulling the paperwork and not sending the file to the county attorney’s office.

Concerns about Wilkinson’s decision not to seek charges against Hehnke were brought to the attention of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. Earlier this year, Hehnke was charged with two misdemeanors.

Wilkinson has been on paid administrative leave since late July.

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