A Little Rock man with a history of stalking women was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to a stalking charge he'd picked up in Conway.
Jeffery John Hergert, 43, stood in a striped Faulkner County Detention Center jumpsuit as he pleaded guilty in a negotiated plea deal before Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson Jr. on Thursday.
The 43-year-old was ultimately sentenced to four years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree stalking, which is a Class C felony that carries a punishment range of three to 10 years in prison and can carry a fine up to $10,000. His punishment also carries a three-year suspended sentence and no contact order was issued against Hergert on the 19-year-old victim's behalf.
The victim told authorities Hergert began harassing her on Feb. 15 when he slammed on his brakes next to her as she was jogging along Salem Road. She said she couldn’t hear what he was saying because she had in her headphones, but told him she doesn’t talk to strangers and continued jogging, according to a probable cause affidavit filed against Hergert.
The situation escalated, according to the woman’s statement, after she told Hergert to leave her alone.
She said Hergert immediately turned around and tried to speak with her again, at which point she broke off and headed onto Irby Drive in an attempt to get home.
The next day, the woman said that as she was leaving her apartment, she saw the same vehicle parked on Quattlebaum Street, which is adjacent to the Links at Cadron Valley. She said he wasn’t parked in front of a residence but “was on the side of the road facing Irby [Drive].”
On Feb. 19, the woman said Hergert followed her to Fuji’s Steak House while she was out eating with a friend and his family. She said Hergert, who was sitting at the bar, approached her as she was leaving the restaurant.
“As they were leaving, the same man from before stood up from the bar and spoke with her again,” the affidavit reads. “He asked if the children with [her friend’s] family were hers and she said no, that she was only 19. The man then asked where she worked and what she did around town. [Her friend’s] mother interjected and told the man to leave [the victim] alone.”
During the Conway Police Department’s investigation, detectives learned Hergert had a history of stalking women.
“Jeffrey had a warrant in Idaho for several charges, including stalking, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, indecent exposure and enticing a minor,” one officer wrote in his report. “I found that Jeffrey also had two charges of harassment and breaking or entering in Arkansas. I became concerned that should this individual [be stalking the victim], that he may actually be planning to do something harmful.”
Court records show Hergert has a criminal history in eight states, with previous stalking charges filed out of Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
Police departments across the state said they have received complaints against Hergert for posing as a door-to-door salesman in order to harass women, according to online records.