Convicted Columbus BB gun shooter awaiting sentencing
A Columbus man who in late August was found guilty of 28 charges in Platte County Court in the wake of a two-day bench trial where Judge Frank Skorupa needed additional time to deliberate is scheduled for an Oct. 1 sentencing.
Donald E. Ziemba Jr., 49, was found guilty of 28 misdemeanor offenses which included eight counts of disturbing the peace, 10 counts of criminal mischief and 10 charges of discharging a firearm/weapon from the highway, according to court documentation signed by Skorupa on Aug. 20.
Five additional charges were dropped and the defendant was found not guilty on six charges. All original 39 charges were tied to Ziemba’s involvement in a spree of BB gun shootings occurring from Jan. 16-Feb. 26, a period where Columbus Police were investigating dozens of reports relating to windows being randomly shot out of vehicles in the Columbus area, as previously reported by The Telegram.
Ziemba, police said, fired a BB gun at parked and moving vehicles in parking lots and city streets.
All of the convicted charges are Class III misdemeanors, with each carrying a penalty of up to three months in jail and a $500 fine. With the offenses carrying misdemeanor status, Skorupa could opt to levy a probation sentence in the case.
According to court records, police began developing a suspect in the case with the help of video surveillance in the areas of the crimes, along with other investigation that had been done on the incidents.
The defendant, according to Sgt. Bret Strecker’s arrest statement, was driving a red 1996 Ford Explorer utility four-door.
“I was able to obtain a search warrant for the purpose of placing a tracking device on the vehicle (beginning Feb. 9),” Strecker previously reported. “The warrant was good for 30 days. It (tracker) ended up being on the vehicle for 16 days.”
Data from the tracker, coupled with surveillance video from crime scenes, identified Ziemba’s SUV as being at crime scenes within moments of shooting reports, police reported.
A large number of BBs and a BB gun were found in Ziemba’s possession and in his SUV during searches while the investigation was underway, police said.
In other recent court news:
* A former school golf coach charged in a loan scam has been sentenced to two years of probation.
Platte Country District Court records say 54-year-old Karl Dierman, of Lincoln, also was ordered at his early September sentencing to pay restitution of more than $14,500.
He’d pleaded no contest to forgery. Prosecutors dismissed 11 other counts in return for Dierman’s plea.
Court documents say the former Columbus Scotus coach requested a cash loan against an insurance policy with Mass Mutual Financial Group listing his in-laws as the insureds and identifying the payee as his wife.
Dierman acknowledged forging his in-laws’ signatures on the loan application and forging his wife’s signature to deposit the loan funds in his business account, over which she had no control.
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at Sam.Pimper@lee.net.