State appeals reinstatement of female prison guard over sex act

The Nevada Attorney General's Office is asking for judicial review of a decision to reinstate a female prison guard fired for committing a sex act with a male officer while on duty.

Amie Bianchini and Sean Hoferer both admitted the act. He resigned, but she contested her firing.

According to the record, the two were on night shift Feb. 18, 2005, when she accompanied Hoferer to a bathroom near her post at Lovelock Correctional Center and performed oral sex.

Hearing Officer Pat Dolan agreed the conduct was disgraceful, but said there is a range of less-severe punishment for such offenses, and that the evidence failed to establish the conduct warranted firing her.

He said the violation, a "Class 3" infraction similar under the prison's rules to sleeping on duty, is not historically punished by termination.

He said a suspension without pay or a demotion for a first offense would be more in line and reinstated Bianchini to her job as a correctional officer.

The petition filed in Carson District Court on March 31 argues the reinstatement order was "clearly erroneous" as well as an abuse of discretion. It asks the court to overturn the decision and allow Bianchini to be fired.

No legal arguments were included in the petition and no hearing has yet been scheduled in the case. But the Department of Corrections has, in the past, used section 284.650 of the Nevada Administrative Code, which lists 22 causes for disciplinary action against state workers.

One of those causes bars "disgraceful personal conduct which impairs the performance of a job or causes discredit to the agency."

That section was used a decade ago to support the firing of Peggy Knapp from her position as a warden at the women's prison after she and her husband announced plans to develop a "Wild West" brothel theme park in Lyon County. The court in that case upheld her firing in 1996.

Director of Corrections Glen Whorton said after the reinstatement order was issued in Bianchini case that the residents of Nevada shouldn't have to tolerate that kind of conduct by state employees while on duty.

"If this had happened in the private sector, there would be no question that both officers would have been summarily dismissed from employment," he said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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