Edgar Steele

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Edgar James Steele
Born (1945-07-05) July 5, 1945 (age 68)
Nationality American
Occupation Writer, former lawyer
Criminal charge
Conspiracy to commit murder[1]
Criminal penalty
50 years' imprisonment
Spouse(s) Cyndi Steele

Edgar James Steele (born July 5, 1945)[2] is an American author and former trial attorney from northern Idaho, best known for serving as the defense attorney for Richard G. Butler, the founder of the white supremacist Aryan Nations. "Known to some as the 'Attorney for the Damned,' Steele" "handled many cases noted for testing the free-speech and racially-charged limits of Constitutional law on behalf of politically-incorrect clients." He published a "somewhat regular and almost always peripatetic weekly Internet commentary," with "colorful and lively rants about the state of American Society and politics with reports concerning [his] high profile cases .... See www.ConspiracyPenPal.com." He appeared on "virtually every national TV network news program" and was "interviewed repeatedly for Today, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Fox News, Dateline, NBC Nightly News and CNN, as well as countless local television news programs and radio talk shows throughout America, in connection with both his writing and the high-profile cases he ... handled." A former Financial Analyst, Steele has "a BA in Finance from the University of Washington, an MBA in Accounting from UC Berkeley, and a Juris Doctorate from UCLA." [3][4] Before being imprisoned by the U.S. government for 50 years at the age of 66 on questionable charges, he lived in the Idaho panhandle with his wife and children.

On June 11, 2010, Steele and another man were arrested and charged in connection with an alleged murder-for-hire plot to kill Steele's wife Cyndi and her mother. Steele's wife and other supporters, including former Louisiana State Representative David Duke, stated during Steele's trial that the allegations were false, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had arrested Steele simply to silence him. Steele was found guilty of four charges, including conspiracy to commit murder, on May 5, 2011, and was sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment on November 9, 2011.[5] He is now incarcerated in Victorville, California.[6]

Notable cases[edit]

Steele defended Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler in a 2000 lawsuit, which he ultimately lost.[7] In another case, Steele challenged Idaho's hate crime laws in defending Lonny Rae, a man who had been charged with malicious harassment for shouting "nigger" at a black referee who had injured Rae's wife, Kimberly (a reporter for a local newspaper), while trying to prevent her from taking a photograph following a high school football match. Steele argued that the law breached the constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment. Rae was cleared of the harassment charge but sentenced to seven days imprisonment for assault.[8] In 2004, Rae's conviction was overturned on appeal, which was also handled by Steele.[9] Steele also formerly worked as a spokesman for Prussian Blue, a female white supremacist pop music duo that was active in the mid-2000s.[10]

2005 book, Defensive Racism[edit]

In 2005, Steele published a book entitled Defensive Racism: An Unapologetic Examination of Racial Differences, in which he described his views on the differences between the races of the world, and questioned the motives of political correctness with regard to efforts to portray all races as indistinguishable except for skin color.[11]

Arrest for conspiracy to commit murder[edit]

In June 2010, Steele's handyman, Larry Fairfax, alleged to authorities that Steele was soliciting the murders of his wife and mother-in-law in a murder-for-hire plot. The FBI (including FBI Special Agent Michael Sotka) allegedly had Fairfax wear a hidden recorder (he was not wired) to record meetings between Fairfax and Steele where the plot would be discussed. Two recordings were created. Afterwards, Steele was arrested for (among other things) conspiracy to commit murder.[12][13]

Subsequently, when Steele was already in police custody, a pipe bomb was found under his wife's car when she took it in for an oil change, which brought the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms into the case, and Fairfax was arrested. The charging document for Fairfax's arrest includes an admission that he manufactured and installed the bomb.[14] Fairfax was given a 27-month prison sentence, and was transferred to home confinement in April 2012.[15]

Attorney Wesley Hoyt, who first represented Cyndi Steele and later became Edgar Steele's third defense lawyer, asserted that Larry Fairfax was in deep financial trouble and his home was in foreclosure when he stole $46,000 worth of silver coins from stashes on the Steeles' property. Fairfax knew about the hiding places and was even hired by Edgar Steele to build some of them. Hoyt said that Fairfax was able to bring his mortgage current with the theft, but then needed a way to keep the Steeles from finding out and reporting the theft to the police. By fabricating the story about the murder-for-hire plot, reasoned defense Attorney Hoyt, Fairfax was able to assume the function of a police informant (a familiar role for him), becoming a "self-made hit man," according to Attorney Hoyt's theory, at which point the government gained an entry into Steele's life. The assumption from this is that the government wanted Fairfax to secretly record some conversations with Steele so that Steele's voice could be sampled digitally and used to fabricate false evidence against him. The reason Cyndi Steele's mother was supposedly chosen by the government as a target was because she lived in the next state, and when Fairfax crossed the state line, the crime would expand from a local event to the interstate level. Choosing a car bomb would escalate penalties to much longer incarceration times, the whole idea presumably being to concoct federal felony violations that would put the politically incorrect Edgar Steele, who had just traced a lucrative Russian bride scam to a Florida company, away for life.[16]

Trial[edit]

Steele was initially assigned a federal public defender, Roger Peven, when he was arrested.[17] In July 2010, Steele's supporters put up a website to solicit donations to hire him a private attorney. By February 2011, they had raised over $120,000 for this purpose, and hired leading Denver attorney Robert T. McAllister, as well as local Idaho attorney Gary Amendola.[18] Steele remained incarcerated in Spokane, Washington, and Bonner County, Idaho while awaiting trial. He was relocated to Boise, Idaho, for his trial, which began on April 28, 2011.[19] At the time of the trial, McAllister was in the process of being disbarred for converting the funds of a client to his own use.[20]

Not only did the FBI describe the June 2010 recordings between Fairfax and Steele in conflicting ways with regard to how they were recorded, but the recordings entered into evidence in court by the Federal government (the government's only evidence against Steele) contained many serious defects. Even so, U.S. Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill denied Steele's defense attorney the opportunity to have expert witnesses call the recordings into question, lest it make the government look bad, or to mount a defense on Steele's behalf.[21] One of the expert witnesses for Steele would have been George Papcun, the very man who invented voice morphing technology in a Los Alamos laboratory in 1999. The story of how the judge prevented him from presenting his testimony, which would have exonerated Steele, is hair-raising and shocking.[22]

Prosecutor Traci Whelan questioned Steele's wife Cyndi regarding her marital troubles with him.[23] In 2000, Cyndi had caught her husband looking for women in California on Match.com; she posted her own profile with a fake name and got him to reply, after which she filed for divorce. In her petition, she asked for numerous damages, including child support payments of $1,400 per month, two of the family's vehicles, and their horse ranch in Sagle, Idaho.[24] Steele and Cyndi were reconciled a few months later and the divorce petition was dismissed. Nonetheless, the prosecution used this to show that Steele had a motive to kill his current wife if he wanted a new partner.

Steele's computer had been seized with his arrest. Under questioning, Cyndi admitted that her husband had sent 14,000 emails to large numbers of Ukrainian women between January and June 2010.[25] Each of the women had received at least 10 emails or 100 instant messages. The prosecutor argued that this showed that Steele wanted a new partner, and had a motive to kill his current wife.

The prosecutor introduced several love letters written by Steele to his supposed Ukrainian girlfriend Tatyana Loginova from his jail cell while he was awaiting trial. These letters were signed by Steele and were admitted as evidence in court without any objection from Steele's attorney. In one of the letters, Steele expressed a wish to live with Loginova:

"You could, perhaps, go to school in Panama, if you like, or summer school in Ukraine, or we could find you something to do – work at something, language instructions [sic]? Take care of our babies, make love to me, whatever will make you happy. You get to be near friends, family for half of every year. I get the same for three months each year. We both get to be warm for the winter, which can be like a huge, extended vacation each year. Our kids learn both Russian and English as they grow up. It sounds great to me. What do you think, my love?"[26]

Loginova was later questioned over a video link from the Ukraine. The prosecutor argued that Steele desired to be with Loginova in the Ukraine, and thus had a motive to kill his wife.

Judge Winmill's approval of having Loginova examined by video by the defense during the trial instead of in person was highly irregular. "Judge Winmill’s earnest concern for the supposed right of the prosecution to 'confront' Dr. Papcun [the defense's star witness] stands in stark contrast to his indifference to Edgar Steele’s constitutionally-protected [Sixth Amendment] right to confront a key prosecution witness, Ukrainian resident Tatyana Loginova ...."[27]

The Judge intentionally waffled back and forth on which way it had to be for expert defense witness Papcun, even in the last two days, taking the defense on a wild, emotional and sleepless roller-coaster ride as Steele, his lawyer and his family and friends struggled with the vacillating options on whether George Papcun (who was on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in Bora Bora with his wife) could testify at trial by video (as initially ruled by Judge Winmill), or whether a private jet would have to suddenly be chartered at great expense (requiring a frantic last-minute scramble to raise $180,000) to deliver him to the trial in person overnight. The numerous delays in the trial date had made it impossible for Papcun to schedule his vacation at a time that was certain to pose no conflict with the trial.[28]

Ultimately, time and money ran out, and Edgar Steele's attorney was not able to question his star witness on the stand in front of the jury so that the jury could hear the expert opinion that Papcun had already offered during the pre-trial deposition: that the recordings were so filled with anomalies and "artifacts" (including evidence of voices purporting to be Edgar's when in fact they were demonstrably not his voice) that the supposedly incriminating recordings were completely unreliable as evidence. Since a deposition is when each side gets to see the strengths and weaknesses of the other side's position, it was clear during the deposition that Steele would be able to avoid being convicted of the charges against him, because there was a reasonable doubt as to their validity. Judge Winmill, however, by interfering with Papcun's ability to present his testimony at the trial itself, made sure that the government's evidence (in the two recordings), that Steele had hired Fairfax to murder his wife and mother-in-law, remained unchallenged at the time when it mattered. The jury had no choice but to accept its authenticity, based on the rules laid down by the judge.[29] The jury's decision on the recorded conversation was also influenced by the graphic language and cavalier tone used by the man whose voice was identified as that of Edgar Steele as he instructed his hit man in how to do the killing and how to handle the inevitable arrest.[30]

Weeks before, at the time of his arrest, Steele had been preparing for his next book, conducting an ongoing "investigation of human trafficking involving a 'Russian bride' scam out of the Ukraine. This pursuit was twisted and used against him when his email files were used as evidence against him at trial [supposedly demonstrating that he had a believable motive for having his wife murdered] even though his wife Cyndi testified to the authenticity of his investigation and her awareness of it."[31]

On November 9, 2011, after the sentencing, in her Statement By the Victim, Cyndi Steele said in court to Judge Winmill (quoting here verbatim from the transcript of the proceedings), "The recordings were an elaborate fabrication. When that all failed, they latched onto information and selectively utilized Ed’s book research to manufacture a motive. The Russian bride claim is so bogus, as four witnesses testified.

"I knew that Ed was using these communications as his research and saw confirmation of the consistency between many different Russian women who are being exploited as part of a human-trafficking scam. Of course, it suited the government’s needs to single out only one of these women, and then McAllister failed to put into evidence the many other women my husband was investigating as part of this scam.

"I am not as shallow as Ms. Whelan enjoys portraying, for if it was anything else than an investigation that I knew it to be, I would have freed Ed, and I would have moved on.

"But this was the background work for his next book to show how they preyed on older men in America, how every one of the 25 or so women he contacted made the same requests in order, using the same language. 'Send me candy for 25.' 'Send me flowers for 50.' 'Send me English lessons for 500,' and thousands to pay for a trip for the women to come to America.

"It was a repeated pattern, like a broken record, and he was getting the goods on this scam. He had tracked it to a Florida company that was making huge profit out of this and had talked to one of the translators and sufficient [sic] to be able to expose the fraud; that is, until his arrest."[32]

(See photo of Honorable B. Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge U.S. District Court, and Honorable Vladimir Nikolayevich Solovyev from the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.[33])

As for events contemporaneous with this historic trial, the November 9, 2011, sentencing of Edgar Steele, based on the United States government's questionable recordings, and on misinterpreted "evidence" (only one of Steele's 14,000 emails to Ukrainian women) drawn from his fruitful research into the Russian bride scam he traced to a Florida business, came two years before Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West in early 2014 of encouraging an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine and sent Russian troops into the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, declaring that Western actions were driving Ukraine into anarchy. [34] This was the prelude to the bloodless Russian takeover of Crimea on March 18, 2014.[35]

Conviction and sentencing[edit]

On May 5, 2011, after extended deliberation, the jury of eleven women and one man found Steele guilty on all four counts described in the indictment: (1) use of interstate commerce to commission murder for hire, (2) possession of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence, (3) use of explosive material to commit a federal felony, and (4) tampering with a witness.[36] In an interview after the trial ended, Steele's wife gave a passionate and critical assessment of the prosecution, judge and case elements.[37] Steele's sentencing hearing was held on November 9, 2011, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. After making a statement in his own defense,[38] he was sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment.[39] He is now interned in Victorville, California.[6]

As a result of these convictions he was disbarred from the practice of law by the State Bar of California on January 30, 2014.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Edgar Steele sentenced to 50 years in murder-for-hire scheme". Namps, ID. November 9, 2011.
  2. ^ Latah County Jail Booking Information. VINELink. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  3. ^ Steele, Edgar J. (2005). Defensive Racism: An Unapologetic Examination of Racial Differences.. ProPer Press. pp. inside back dust cover. ISBN 0-9761259-0-0. 
  4. ^ "In Defense of Anti-Semitism, In Defense of Racism". In Defense of Anti-Semitism. February 15, 2003. June 30, 2003. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  5. ^ ""Edgar Steele sentenced to 50 years in murder-for-hire scheme"". Op.cit. 
  6. ^ a b "Update regarding appeal and Mr. Steele’s current status at Victorville, 4/12/2013". FreeEdgarSteele.com. April 12, 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Leaders of Aryan Nations Found Negligent in Attack". The New York Times. September 8, 2000. Retrieved April 8, 2008. 
  8. ^ Cortese, Anthony; Delgado, Richard (2005). Opposing Hate Speech. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 21–23. ISBN 0-275-98427-3. 
  9. ^ "STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Lonny Duane RAE, Defendant-Appellant. No. 28229". Court of Appeals of Idaho via Google Scholar. January 23, 2004. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  10. ^ "Pop Twerps From Heil Can't Carry Tune". Daily News (New York). October 30, 2005. 
  11. ^ Defensive Racism: An Unapologetic Examination of Racial Differences.. Op.cit. 
  12. ^ "North Idaho attorney charged in murder-for-hire plot". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA). June 14, 2010.
  13. ^ Grigg, William N. "Framing Steele: A Case of Sovietized American 'Justice'". Payette, ID: Pro Libertate. October 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Criminal Complaint: Affidavit of Todd Smith". United States v. Larry Fairfax. United States District Court for the District of Idaho. June 16, 2010.
  15. ^ "Hit man in murder-for-hire case out of prison". KBOI TV. June 1, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Video: Witness to the Persecution - The Plot to Silence Edgar Steele". INI World Report. February 13, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2014.
  17. ^ "Wife stands by husband accused of trying to have her killed". Krem.com. July 29, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  18. ^ Info release, continuance & change of venue, 3/9/2011. FreeEdgarSteele.com. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  19. ^ Day 1 Trial Transcript Page 1
  20. ^ "Denver Lawyer Is Disbarred". Law Week Online. June 9, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  21. ^ "Video: Witness to the Persecution - The Plot to Silence Edgar Steele". Op. cit.
  22. ^ "FBI Stings Edgar Steele - Conviction Appears Rigged". The Story Behind the Story. July 19, 2011. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  23. ^ Day 3 Trial Transcript Page 770
  24. ^ Day 3 Trial Transcript Page 734.
  25. ^ Day 4 Trial Transcript Page 816.
  26. ^ Day 5 Trial Transcript Page 1098
  27. ^ Grigg, William N. "Framing Steele: A Case of Sovietized American 'Justice'". Op. cit. 
  28. ^ Grigg, William N. "Framing Steele: A Case of Sovietized American 'Justice'". Op. cit. 
  29. ^ Grigg, William N. "Framing Steele: A Case of Sovietized American 'Justice'". Op. cit. 
  30. ^ "Steele recorder transcripts (excerpts) from p. 140---:". Stormfront.org. May 27, 2013. Accessed March 19, 2014.
  31. ^ "Edgar Steele Is Completely Innocent". INI World Report. February 13, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2014.
  32. ^ "At the Sentencing of Edgar Steele: Statements of "Victim" and Defendant, excerpted from the transcript of proceedings". United States of America, Plaintiff vs. Edgar J. Steele, Defendant. November 9, 2011. Accessed March 18, 2014.
  33. ^ "U.S. Courts: Russian Photos". U.S. Courts, District of Idaho. 2002. Accessed March 18, 2014.
  34. ^ "Ukraine protests: Russia has right to use force, Vladimir Putin says". The Oregonian. March 4, 2014. Accessed 3/18/2014.
  35. ^ "Agreement on the accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation signed". President of Russia. March 18, 2014. Accessed 3/18/2014.
  36. ^ "Jury deliberates in Idaho murder-for-hire case". Boise, ID: KTVB. May 6, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  37. ^ "Raw: Cyndi Steele maintains husband's innocence, blames govt. conspiracy" (Flash Video). Boise, ID: KTVB. May 5, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  38. ^ Sentencing Transcript via StopNetSpend.com. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  39. ^ ""Edgar Steele sentenced to 50 years in murder-for-hire scheme"". Op.cit. 

External links[edit]