80°F
weather icon Clear

Embattled federal prosecutor in Nevada takes a step down

Updated April 12, 2018 - 5:17 pm

After a stormy year, the long tenure of Steven Myhre as the No. 2 prosecutor in the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office has ended under secrecy.

Within the past month, Myhre left his job as first assistant to Interim U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson and took on new duties in the office as a senior litigation counsel, several former federal prosecutors who have spoken with office members told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

His new position comes with no supervisory responsibilities, but allows him to mentor and train younger attorneys, according to a Justice Department manual.

Last May, Myhre, who spent about 15 years as first assistant in the office, was ordered to undergo anti-sex discrimination training as a result of a federal case filed by a female prosecutor during the tenure of former U.S. Attorney Greg Brower in 2008 and 2009.

In January, Myhre came under fire again after Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the high-profile criminal case against rancher Cliven Bundy and his co-defendants over the armed 2014 standoff near Bunkerville. Navarro concluded that Myhre’s prosecution team committed “flagrant” misconduct by not turning over evidence to the defense that could have harmed the government’s case. The Justice Department earlier had ordered an internal investigation of the prosecution team.

Elieson this week refused to confirm or comment on Myhre’s move and other management changes in the office, including the promotion of Andrew Duncan from criminal division chief to executive assistant U.S. attorney. She said through a spokeswoman that she considered the matters to be personnel issues. But other U.S. attorneys across the country put out news releases about such changes, and larger offices in New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. include the names of supervisors on their websites.

Charles La Bella, a retired Justice Department official, said Elieson has an obligation to disclose the names of her managers.

“While I understand personnel actions are not public and shouldn’t be public because people have a certain degree of privacy, the people who are in those positions should be identified,” said La Bella, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego and deputy fraud chief with the Justice Department. “The public has a right to know.”

At the same time, La Bella said he has sympathy for Elieson, who is new to Nevada.

“She has a formidable task getting the office marching in the same direction when she has no history in that office,” he said. “Every United States attorney’s office has its own personality. It’s like walking into a new classroom as a teacher.”

Elieson has not filled the first assistant’s position, and it is unclear whether Myhre requested the new assignment or was demoted. Trisha Young, a spokeswoman for Elieson, denied a request to interview Myhre and Duncan, now the No. 2 person in the office.

The Justice Department in Washington did not return a call for comment.

Myhre was among those singled out last year in a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decision critical of the office under Brower.

The EEOC decision, obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in July, concluded that Brower had subjected the female prosecutor, who has since left the office, to sex discrimination and retaliation. Myhre was Brower’s first assistant.

Brower, a former Nevada legislator, displayed a “hostile” attitude toward the prosecutor after she complained about sexist remarks her white collar crime supervisor had made, the decision said. The office also was slow to transfer the prosecutor out of the white collar crime unit.

The EEOC ordered Myhre, Brower and other office managers, to undergo anti-sex discrimination training and submit a compliance report. The agency also ordered the Justice Department to pay the female prosecutor $287,998 in legal fees, costs and damages.

Brower at the time was the FBI’s top liaison with Congress during a politically charged investigation into Russian election meddling. Last month, he left his position as an FBI assistant director to work in the Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. offices of the high-powered law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

When the EEOC decision became public last year, Myhre was the acting U.S. attorney in Nevada as a result of the Trump administration’s firing of longtime U.S Attorney Daniel Bogden. He also spent more than a year as acting U.S. attorney in 2007.

In January, the Justice Department took the unusual step of bringing Elieson from Texas to temporarily take the reins of the Nevada office rather than hiring someone from within the state.

Nevada’s congressional delegation traditionally recommends a new U.S. attorney, who then is appointed by the president and approved by the U.S. Senate. But in Elieson’s case, the Justice Department took control of the process with her temporary appointment.

Her 120-day term ends in May, which means if she wants to continue heading the office, she must be appointed by Navarro for another temporary term until the president decides to put someone in the position for the long term. Under federal law, Navarro is not bound to select Elieson and could choose someone else.

Former federal prosecutors said Elieson has been making administrative changes that suggest she is expecting to remain at the helm of the office.

It is not unusual for a new U.S. attorney to install a new management team, the former prosecutors said. Elieson also has added more supervisors and reorganized the criminal division, which is now headed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Silva.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president - VIDEO
On April 13, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his official endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders drops out of 2020 Democratic race for president - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential bid on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic National Convention postponed - VIDEO
The Democratic National Convention was set to take place over four days in the middle of July. Democratic officials have now confirmed the convention will take place the week of Aug. 17. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Cortez Masto shows support for Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto shows her support for senior state District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench in Nevada. (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
Sen. Rosen supports Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen shows her support for Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench. (Sen. Jacky Rosen)
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews resigns following series of controversies - VIDEO
The "Hardball" host announced his departure Monday night, March 2, 2020, effective immediately. The anchor recently came under fire for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucasus to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST