Oct 10, 2019 3:53 AM

Two more charges filed against central Nebraska prosecutor

Posted Oct 10, 2019 3:53 AM

BROKEN BOW, Neb. (AP) — The state attorney general's office has filed two more misdemeanor charges against the top prosecutor in central Nebraska's Custer County, alleging that he "engaged in fraud, deceit or misrepresentation" to a court in a man's case.

Court records show Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers already was charged with official misconduct. The new charges, obstructing government operations and oppression under color of office, were contained in a Sept. 27 complaint that was modified in another filing last week.

The charges don't specify what led the attorney general's office to charge Bowers, but they do say they're related to the criminal case of a Broken Bow man, Sean Newman.

Bowers and his attorney have declined to comment about the case or respond to questions. The records don't show that Bowers has entered any pleas, but his attorney has filed a motion asking the court to toss out the charges. A motions hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1.

The charge of official misconduct against Bowers alleges that between Jan. 2 and Oct. 31 of last year, he violated his duty as county attorney and "engaged in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation to the Custer County District Court in regard to the plea agreement, bond reviews and sentencing" of Newman.

The obstruction charge alleges that between April 19 and Oct. 31 of last year, Bowers broke the law by "obstructing and hindering the district court judge from performing his/her official duties; by preventing the sentencing" of Newman.

The third charge alleges that Bowers committed oppression under color of office between April 19, 2018, and Sept. 27 of this year by deceiving or attempting to deceive Newman, the county sheriff's office and the district court.

The April 19, 2018, date coincides with Newman's scheduled sentencing after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of assault and related crimes. He didn't show up and a bench warrant was issued.

The court records don't show that Newman has yet been sentenced in that case. His attorney hasn't responded to an Associated Press request for comment.

Bowers' attorney's motion asking the court to toss the charges against Bowers criticizes them as vague and says the attorney general's office is violating the U.S. and Nebraska constitutions' concepts of separation of powers. The attorney, Michael Borders, said a formal complaint by the Nebraska Supreme Court's Counsel for Discipline has not been filed and that the high court is the "sole determiner of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct as a judicial function."

The counsel's office said Wednesday that no formal charges had been filed against Bowers.

Borders' filing also contends that the attorney general's office is interfering with Bowers' right of prosecutorial discretion and is violating the Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct by filing the charges.