Government worker pleads guilty to witness tampering

A former assistant property manager for the U.S. General Services Administration in Las Vegas pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal agents and tampering with a witness in a criminal investigation.

Steven M. Underhill, 57, was charged in a three-count federal indictment in August with making false statements to agents with the GSA’s Office of Inspector General and then attempting to “intimidate, threaten and corruptly persuade a witness” into not cooperating with them.

The agents were investigating the conduct of Underhill, who managed the physical operations of the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse and the nearby Bible Federal Building.

According to the indictment, Underhill, who was responsible for managing maintenance and cleaning contractors at the two federal buildings, had a personal relationship with a woman who worked for a janitorial company. After the woman ended the relationship, Underhill is alleged to have retaliated by giving the contractor unsatisfactory performance ratings for several years.

The poor ratings resulted in the company’s failure to win a new maintenance contract in 2009, the indictment said.

On Friday, Underhill pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon to two counts of making a false statement to the federal agents and one count of witness tampering.

As part of his plea agreement, the government will recommend five years of probation at his Sept. 12 sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Newman told Gordon.

In 2010, the janitorial company filed a complaint with the GSA’s inspector general.

The complaint alleged that Underhill was upset that the woman had moved away from Las Vegas after ending the relationship, and he was trying to pressure her to return and work with him again.

During interviews with agents in April and May of 2011, Underhill falsely denied that he had a relationship with the woman and once lived with her, the indictment alleged.

Then, from May 2011 to January 2012, the indictment alleged, Underhill sent threatening text messages to the woman in an attempt to prevent her from providing the agents with information.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.