Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 1999


April 28, 1999


A Douglas County District Court judge reconsidered sentencing for a Baldwin man Tuesday, sparing him a year in jail for three counts of endangering a child.

James T. Underberg will serve two years of probation, Judge Robert Fairchild ruled, modifying the punishment he handed down in March for the 56-year-old man.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich said Tuesday that at the time of the plea, prosecutors knew probation might be the final outcome.

"This was such a difficult case to prosecute," Tonkovich said Tuesday. The case moved slowly through the system, she said.

Prosecutors agreed that it was not in the best of interest of the victims to go forward to trial, she said.

"The victims suffered a great deal," the district attorney said. "We concluded that a plea was the right thing to do."

Fairchild initially sentenced Underberg to one year each on three counts of child endangerment. Underberg already had served a year in jail, and the judge ordered him to spend another 12 months before he began two years on probation.

Underberg's attorney, David Brown, filed a motion to modify the punishment, saying "prejudicial and improper" comments made by the father of one of Underberg's victims tainted the sentencing.

His motion also argued that the punishment didn't follow terms of the plea agreement Underberg signed with prosecutors.

Underberg initially faced five charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and two counts of rape from incidents involving 9, 12- and 13-year-old girls from November 1994 to September 1997.

The father of one of the girls recently filed a protection order against Underberg. A mutual no-contact provision is in effect for a year.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is

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