Custer District Attorney Steven Bowers and a Broken Bow attorney have admitted a scheme that allows local criminals to avoid prosecution if they agree to leave town and not return.
The state’s Supreme Court reprimanded both attorneys in an opinion released on Friday.
According to the Nebraska Supreme Court Disciplinary Attorney, Bowers admitted doing business that would drive local felons out of town and help them escape the county. An investigation by the lawyer earlier this year highlighted the unorthodox approach to criminal cases.
According to the court record, Bowers would get the accused criminal to plead guilty. Bowers would set a low bond that would allow the person to stay out of jail; with the deal, they would leave town and not come back. The judge, unaware of the plan, would issue an arrest warrant for her. The prosecutor has asked the sheriff not to bring approved felons back to court if they are found in another district.
The Supreme Court also reprimanded Broken Bow’s attorney Christopher Wickham for working with the district attorney to get his clients out of town. In one case, a defendant admitting assault and four other crimes was allowed to leave town only to face further charges in Omaha.
Bowers and Wickham did not respond to requests for comment.
In 2019, the Nebraska Attorney General tried to convict Attorney Bowers of official misconduct but failed to gather enough evidence to convince a judge.
Bowers and Wickham, who are charged with breach of their oath of office, may continue to practice law under certain conditions.