Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 | 1:01 p.m.
A Clark County judge agreed to modify a sentence for David Schubert, a former drug prosecutor convicted of possessing cocaine, granting him the opportunity to apply to participate in a substance abuse program.
Schubert, who fled to Mexico on Sept. 21, the day he was supposed to surrender for a nine-month jail sentence, appeared Wednesday morning in District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth’s courtroom.
Ellsworth agreed to the defense’s request of a modified 12- to 30-month prison sentence, with a recommendation that Schubert be eligible for the 184 Program, a program for nonviolent offenders with possible substance-abuse problems. Schubert, who was given credit for 40 days time served, also must pay $365.26, the cost of his extradition back to Las Vegas from San Diego, where he surrendered to authorities.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Thom Gover said the state did not oppose the sentence modification. The Nevada Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case after the Clark County District Attorney’s Office recused itself.
“I think you really need to do that if you want to recover and be a productive lawyer again at some point in the future,” Ellsworth told Schubert, referring to the 184 Program. Inmates must apply for the program.
Schubert’s attorney, Louis Schneider, said he was “astounded and pleased” with Ellsworth’s decision.
“I’m actually really grateful for Judge Ellsworth,” Schneider said. “I think Judge Ellsworth is genuinely concerned for Dave’s safety and his health.”
Schubert resigned from the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in March 2011 after he was arrested for possessing $40 worth of cocaine and having an unregistered handgun in his car.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance not for the purpose of sale. In February, Ellsworth agreed to suspend Schubert’s sentence — 16 to 40 months in prison — by placing him on three years of probation, which would include nine months in the Clark County Detention Center, according to court records.
Schubert originally remained free while he challenged the sentence, arguing the judge showed bias against him at the sentencing hearing. A higher court, however, ultimately upheld the sentencing.
Schubert then failed to surrender to authorities Sept. 21 to begin his nine months in county jail.
Schneider said his client had unsettling phone calls with his children the night before his scheduled surrender, which was the same day the Nevada Supreme Court temporarily suspended his license to practice law.
“Your honor, he snapped and did the wrong thing, realized he had done the wrong thing and was returning to the United States,” Schneider said. “The measure of the man is that he returned and understood what he had done.”
Schneider argued that, rather than seeking the reinstatement of Schubert’s probation, the modified sentence would be in his client’s best interests.
Ellsworth did not accept the defense request without addressing a concern. She voiced concern about misrepresentations Schubert’s girlfriend made to Schneider at the time of her boyfriend’s disappearance.
The unnamed girlfriend told Schneider she had last seen Schubert walking away from home on foot, but Schubert admitted to Ellsworth on Wednesday that his girlfriend had accompanied him to the airport.
Schubert denied asking the woman to cover for him, though.
“I didn’t ask anyone to make any representations, your honor,” he said.
The bogus information from the girlfriend led the court to fear for Schubert’s well-being — a point Schneider reiterated in court Wednesday when Ellsworth brought up the situation.
“I stood before this court that morning shocked and concerned for his safety,” Schneider said. “I was gravely concerned something horrible had taken place.”
Schneider told reporters he has spoken with both District Attorney Steve Wolfson and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, and neither believes the girlfriend did anything illegal.