Former drug prosecutor sentenced to jail in cocaine case


A District Court judge on Monday slammed a former drug prosecutor with a nine-month jail sentence for cocaine possession, saying she won't give him special treatment weeks after approving a plea deal that dropped three felonies from the case.

Clark County District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth said the terms of the plea deal were "offensive" and then berated former Deputy District Attorney David Schubert as "a disgrace to his oath as a prosecutor and a lawyer."

However, court records show that on Feb. 6, Ellsworth approved the deal, which allowed Schubert to plead guilty to drug possession and dropped three other charges, including unlawful possession of a firearm.

A drug possession conviction results in mandatory probation under state law. And the Department of Parole and Probation had recommended probation for Schubert and a stint in drug court, where, if successful, he could clear his name.

"I'm not going to give you the special treatment," said Ellsworth, who is one of two district judges running for election this year.

The judge sentenced Schubert to probation, which included a $5,000 fine, community service and nine months in the Clark County Detention Center.

Before the sentencing, Schubert, a former top drug prosecutor, apologized for what he called "a tragedy."

In contrast, two high-profile cocaine possession prosecutions handled by Schubert -- those of celebrities Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars -- both resulted in probation and no jail time.

At the Feb. 6 hearing, Ellsworth questioned whether there was misconduct by the state attorney general's office for agreeing to the plea deal with Schubert. But the judge, after reviewing briefs from prosecutors and Schubert's attorney, agreed that the deal "was not the result of an abuse of prosecutorial discretion," court records show.

In December, Judge Doug Herndon recused himself from the case, telling Schubert that he was getting a better deal than some defendants.

Ellsworth, through an assistant, declined to comment on the case.

Las Vegas police arrested the 10-year veteran prosecutor in March after they watched a man get out of Schubert's car, go into an apartment complex and return. Officers found Schubert with a $40 rock of crack cocaine and confiscated a 9 mm handgun from his car.

Schubert, who also was a liaison to a federal drug task force, resigned from the prosecutor's office after his arrest and underwent two months of inpatient substance abuse counseling. The 48-year-old has been undergoing outpatient alcohol and drug counseling since May and has been practicing criminal defense law.

Schubert pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance not for sale.

The conviction could threaten his law career, depending on a review by the State Bar of Nevada and action by the state Supreme Court, said Phil Pattee, assistant state bar council.

Ellsworth gave Schubert until March 12 to surrender and start his sentence.

Defense attorney William Terry said he may appeal the sentence or ask the judge to take the rare step of setting it aside.

Hilton, 30, was arrested after police said 0.8 grams of cocaine fell out of her purse after a traffic stop on the Strip in August 2010. She received a year of probation on misdemeanor cocaine possession and obstruction charges and completed probation in the fall.

Mars, 26, was cleared in January of a felony cocaine possession charge after staying out of trouble for a year and meeting other conditions of a plea deal. The Grammy-winning pop star acknowledged in court in February 2011 that he had 2.6 grams of cocaine after a performance at a Hard Rock Hotel nightclub.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

 

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