Custer County Attorney Disciplined for Helping Felons Leave Town

June 4, 2021, 1:47 p.m. ·

Steven Bowers (left) appears in court with attorney
Custer Co. Attorney Steven Bowers (left) appears in court with his lawyer in February, 2020.

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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 come back.

Both attorneys have been reprimanded by the State Supreme Court in an opinion released 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. The plans were revealed during an investigation by the Counsel earlier this year.

Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers
Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers. (Photo: SandhillsExpress.com)
Christopher Wickham
Christopher Wickham (Courtesy photo)

According to the court record, Bowers would get the accused criminal to plead guilty. Bowers would set a low enough bond to keep the person 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.

Excerpt from Nebraska Supreme Court opinion on Bowers
An excerpt of the Nebraska Supreme Court opinion summarizes the admissions made by Custer County Attorney Bower.