Custer County Attorney And Defense Attorney Reprimanded For ‘Banishment Scheme’

Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers and a Broken Bow defense lawyer have admitted to a scheme allowing local criminals to avoid prosecution if they agreed to get out of town and not return.

The State Supreme Court reprimanded both attorneys in opinions released on Friday.

According to the Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court, Bowers admitted to making deals that would get local accused felons out of town and making it easier for them to flee the county. An investigation earlier this year by the Counsel shed light on the unorthodox approach to disposing of criminal cases.

According to the court record, Bowers would get the accused criminal to plead guilty. Bowers would set a low bond allowing the person to remain out of jail; with the agreement they would skip town and not come back. The judge, unaware of the scheme, would issue a warrant for their arrest. The prosecutor asked the sheriff not to bring admitted felons back to court if found in another county.

The Supreme Court also reprimanded Broken Bow defense attorney Christopher Wickham for working with the County Attorney to get his clients out of town. In one case, a defendant who admitted to assault and four other felonies was allowed to leave town, only to face additional charges in Omaha.

Bowers and Wickham have not responded to requests for comment.

In 2019, The Nebraska Attorney General attempted to convict prosecutor Bowers of official misconduct but failed to assemble enough evidence to convince a judge.

Cited for failing to uphold their oaths of office, Bowers and Wickham are allowed to continue to practice law, with certain conditions.

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