Las Vegas attorney Stephen P. “Bowtie” Stubbs won one and lost one yesterday. Stubbs has been virtually at war with Nevada police, generally on behalf of various biker causes, for the last four years. Without getting lost in the details:
In January 2012, a lecture Stubbs was giving on Constitutional law to a group of bikers in North Las Vegas was interrupted by police. When Stubbs tried to advise the attendees a cop told him, “there is no right to counsel on the streets of North Las Vegas, only in a court room.”
Stubbs represented the Mongols Motorcycle Club when they held their national run in Boulder City, Nevada in June 2012 and that same month he filed federal civil rights lawsuits on behalf of members of the Mongols, the Stray Cats Motorcycle Club and the Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs. The suits complained that the bikers “were willfully, maliciously, and intentionally prevented from associating and/or assembling without justification or compelling state interest as a result of their status as a motorcycle club or motorcycle club member.”
He accused former Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn of attempting to destroy evidence. Finn sued Stubbs for defamation. Stubbs sought and won the dismissal of Finn’s defamation suit under Nevada’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or anti-SLAPP, statute. SLAPPs are lawsuits that are filed by public officials and agencies to intimidate or censor their critics by forcing those critics to defend themselves against the lawsuit until they abandon their criticism. Stubbs won his dismissal and was awarded $15,760. At least partly as a result of his ongoing battle with Stubbs, Finn was fired in April 2013.
Finn Fights Back
Stubbs was arrested and charged with Obstructing a Public Officer in November 2013, after he refused to walk away from a Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Club patch holder who was being detained by police. After the arrest, Stubbs was the subject of an investigation by the Las Vegas Metro Gang Task Force.
Meanwhile, former Chief Finn seems to have become obsessed with Stubbs. He obtained one of Stubbs laptop computers and in November 2014 he sent the computer to an FBI agent along with an allegation that it contained “evidence of tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering.” Finn also sent the IRS’ Criminal Investigations Unit a document titled “Stephen P. Stubbs/Donald F. Gilbert, Jr. Fraud Timeline” that began: “I believe Las Vegas Attorney Stephen P. Stubbs engaged in a calculated scheme with his client Donald Gilbert, to launder money through Stubbs’ attorney trust account….”
Last November, the Metro Gang Task Force leaked a story to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Stubbs was being investigated for forging a “plea agreement in court without his client’s knowledge.” Last February Stubbs was charged with two felony counts of “offering a false instrument for filing or record “and two gross misdemeanor counts of “unlawful notarization of signature by a notary public.”
Stubbs seems to have been set up. He had defended a man named James L. Green on charges of drunk driving and Green later “cooperated with police.” Green said a notarized signature on a plea agreement negotiated by Stubbs was not his. Stubbs later admitted that he had notarized Green’s signature even though Green was not present, after Green’s girlfriend delivered the signed plea deal to him.
Yesterday, Stubbs agreed to plead guilty to “unlawful notarization of signature by a notary public.” He is expected to formally enter his plea on August 10. This morning Stubbs said, “the Gang Task Force, which investigates motorcycle clubs, did a six month long investigation with grand jury subpoenas and warrants. The only thing they found was that I wrongfully notarized one document. I’m pleading guilty to one count of wrongly notarizing one document. That was the only legitimate charge against me.”
Also yesterday, a Nevada Judge ordered Finn to pay Stubbs $10,000 in punitive damages plus legal fees.