Posts tagged: Larry Fairfax
The former Aryan Nations lawyer accused of hiring a man to kill his wife will undergo a mental health examination.
Edgar J. Steele, 65, is to be evaluated by a licensed psychologist Friday at the Ada County Jail in Boise.
Psychologist Robert Engle is to submit a report by April 13 detailing Steele's “physical well-being, psychological functioning and mental health condition” currently and at the time police say Steele hired Larry Fairfax to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele, according to an order by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.
Prosecutors requested the mental evaluation after Steele's lawyers filed a notice saying they intend to introduce expert evidence regarding a mental disease or defect that has “bearing on (Steele's) guilt or his lack of a knowing or intentional mental state.”
Cyndi Steele has said she believes her husband is innocent and that tapes reportedly containing recorded conversations between Steele and Fairfax were manufactured by the federal government.
The Steeles say the case is an attempt to silence Edgar Steele, self described “attorney for the damned,” because of his unpopular views.
Steele is to stand trial April 26 in U.S. District Court in Boise.
Trial for a North Idaho attorney accused of hiring someone to kill his wife has been postponed until late next month and will take place in Boise.
Lawyers for Edgar Steele requested the continuance to allow more time to prepare an expert witness who is expected to question the authenticity of audio recordings of Steele allegedly discussing the plot with hitman-turned-FBI informant Larry Fairfax.
Court scheduling and concerns about pretrial publicity prompted U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to move the trial to Boise.
Edgar Steele's lawyers want his murder-for-hire trial moved to Wyoming.
A change of venue request filed by Robert McAllister and Gary Amendola cites “negative pre-trial publicity” that will hinder finding an impartial jury in North Idaho.
The lawyers say ongoing news coverage, including the release of phone calls that are the basis for a witness tampering charge against Steele, was assisted by the U.S. government or Spokane County Jail officials.
“There was no need for anyone to release evidence in a criminal case to the media other than to gain an unfair advantage,” according to the motion.
The phone calls were actually made from the Kootenai County Jail - not Spokane, where Steele has since been housed. The Spokesman-Review obtained the recordings after they were played in open court at Steele's bail hearing last June.
McAllister and Amendola want the trial moved to U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyo., where potential jurors who “know nothing about the negative and highly prejudicial pre-trial publicity” are available. If the request is denied, the lawyers want to conduct “careful and deliberate voir dire examination” regarding pre-trial publicity.
Federal prosecutors have until Thursday at 5 p.m. to respond.
Steele is accused of hiring a hitman turned FBI informant to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele. Prosecutors say he was involved with another woman overseas. In a prepared statement, Cyndi Steele says she knew of the woman, who she says was contacted by her husband as part of his ongoing legal work to stop human trafficking.
The trial is set to begin March 7.
A North Idaho lawyer accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife was involved with another woman who received a letter from him after his arrest, federal prosecutors allege.
Edgar J. Steele, 65, wanted his wife murdered because he “had been establishing a relationship with a young woman who lives outside of the United States,” according to documents filed this week in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.
Ukrainian officials interviewed the woman and say she provided them with a letter she received from Steele after his arrest last June.
Prosecutors say they plan to show jurors other letters and evidence outlining steps Steele took to meet the woman. The new information regarding Steele’s alleged motive in the murder-for-hire plot was included in documents filed by prosecutors seeking to keep Steele in custody without bail pending his trial next month.
A North Idaho lawyer accused of hiring a hitman to kill his wife remains jailed after a failed attempted by his lawyers to implement a $1 million bond.
Edgar J. Steele's new private attorneys, Gary Amendola, of Coeur d'Alene and Robert McAllister, of Denver, asked U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale to allow Steele's wife and alleged victim, Cyndi Steele, to testify Wednesday regarding her willingness to put up her property in exchange for her husband's release pending trial.
But Dale refused and questioned their claim that her decision to keep Steele in jail last June was based on “foundation-less, hearsay-filled evidence.” She read excerpts from phone calls Steele made to his son and wife after his arrest in which he urged her to tell authorities it was not his voice discussing the murder plot on secretly taped recordings.
“I think if you had taken the time to listen to the detention hearing…that you would not have even submitted this motion to the court,” Dale told McAllister. “There has not been a single change in circumstances.”
Steele's supporters filled the courtroom Wednesday, including Cyndi Steele, Deon Masker and Stan Hess.
At one point, Hess, (pictured) a former Coeur d'Alene school and North Idaho College board candidate, confronted a supporter who sat in the courtroom holding a tattered paperback book with large swastikas on the cover.
Hess asked him why he insisted on being a walking stereotype. The book was “They Thought They Were Free” by Milton Mayer.
Edgar Steele's new lawyers want him freed from jail before his murder-for-hire trial.
Steele's wife and alleged victim is prepared to “put all of her property on the line in order to obtain a bond for her husband,” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
The proposed $1 million bond would be covered by titles to the Steele's property and would be cosigned by Cyndi Steele, David Shelly, Jeff Miller and Allen Banks, according to a motion filed by Robert McAllister and Gary Amendola, who took over Edgar Steele's defense last week.
McAllister and Amendola say the evidence against their client, a UCLA law school graduate with no criminal record, is too weak to support keeping him in custody. They say the case depends on unreliable audio recordings and the word of the alleged hitman turned informant, Larry Fairfax, whom they describe as a petty criminal.
A hearing on the motion for bail is scheduled Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene. Stelele has been in jail since June, accused of hiring a hitman turned FBI informant to kill Cyndi Steele and her mother. His trial is set to begin in March.
He faces decades in prison under charges that include witness tampering for jailhouse phone calls he made to his wife after his arrest.
In the phone call (posted above), Steele urged her to tell federal authorities that the voice on the recording of the murder-plot discussion does not belong to him.
“No matter what you hear, no matter what you think, no matter what you feel, you have to say the following: ‘No, that is not my husband’s voice,’ ” Steele said. “Then, like a rhinoceros in the road, you have to stand your ground and refuse to say anything but that.”
In the 15-page motion, Steele's lawyer say Cyndi Steele doubts the authenticity of the murder-plot discussion recording.
“She said that whenever there were discussions about the alleged plot she noticed changed in background noise and her husband's voice lost certain inflections that were very familiar to her,” according to the motion. “She told FBI agent Suyak that the tapes were untrustworthy in her opinion.”
In documents filed Feb. 7, McAllister and Amendola said they intend to “introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect bearing on his guilt and his lack of a knowing or intentional mental state.”
“As of this time, no such notice has been filed by the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Defendant,” the lawyers wrote.
Edgar Steele is set to ask for a new attorney in his murder-for-hire case.
Longtime Denver defense lawyer Robert T. McAllister said a hearing will take place Monday morning in Coeur d'Alene.
“I am not Mr. Steele's attorney of record at this point in time, but I have been asked to represent him,” McAllister said. “If the court permits me to enter as his attorney, I intend to do so.”
Steele, an anti-Semitic North Idaho lawyer who describes himself as the “attorney for the damned,” currently is represented by Roger Peven, executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho.
Peven was not available for comment.
Steele (pictured above) has been in the Spokane County Jail since last summer, accused of hiring a hitman to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele. Prosecutors say the alleged hitman, Larry Fairfax, told the FBI of the plot and recorded Steele discussing the plan.
Fairfax was arrested a couple days after Steele when auto shop workers discovered a pipe bomb under Cyndi Steele's car. Fairfax said he didn't tell the FBI about the device (pictured) because he thought it was no longer on the vehicle. He also said he'd rigged it so it wouldn't explode but pleaded guilty in October to two federal weapons charges related to the bomb.
He was to be sentenced on Monday, but that hearing has been delayed until after Fairfax's testified at Steele's trial. Steele's trial is set to begin March 7. Fairfax's new sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 16.
Steele faces decades in prison under charges of use of interstate commerce to commission murder for hire, tampering with a victim, use of explosive material to commit a federal felony and possession of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.
Cyndi Steele denies the charges and is critical of prosecutors' treatment of Fairfax. She said Fairfax set up her husband to try to cover up his theft of silver coins. Prosecutors say Steele gave those coins to Fairfax as a down payment in the murder plot.
Cyndi Steele is represented by Colorado and Idaho lawyer Wesley Hoyt, who said McAllister is prepared to go to trial in March, but there are “conditions that might dictate otherwise.”
Both lawyers will be at the federal courthouse in Coeur d'Alene Monday morning.
“It's going to be a very, very interesting time,” Hoyt said.
An informant in a federal murder-for-hire case who planted a pipe bomb under the intended victim’s car pleaded guilty to two federal weapons charges Thursday in Coeur d’Alene.
Larry A. Fairfax, 49, faces a maximum 10 years in prison but federal sentencing guidelines show he could receive as little as 18 months. He’s to be sentenced Dec. 16.
Fairfax, of Sagle, Idaho, has been in custody since June 15, the day employees at a Coeur d’Alene auto shop found a pipe bomb beneath a car belonging to Cyndi Steele, wife of former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele. Cyndi Steele had taken the car in for an oil change before her husband’s first court appearance on charges that he hired Fairfax to kill her and her mother.
Cyndi Steele criticized Fairfax’s plea deal before U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Thursday, saying he should be charged with attempted murder.
Read Cyndi Steele’s full statement to the court, emailed to The Spokesman-Review by her attorney Wesley Hoyt, by clicking the link below.
Winmill has yet to rule on a request from Edgar Steele’s lawyer, Roger Peven, to delay the November trial and declare the case complex. The U.S. Attorney’s Office rejected to the request, saying they could present the case in two to three days.
In an unsurprising move, U.S. Attorney’s Office is opposing Cyndi Steele’s motion to lift the no contact order between her and her husband, Edgar J. Steele.
A judge is to hear the motion this morning in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. Also set for this morning is alleged hitman-turned-informant Larry Fairfax’s plea hearing.
Fairfax (pictured) is expected to plead guilty to two federal weapons charges in connection with a pipe bomb found under Cyndi Steele’s SUV on June 15, four days after Edgar Steele’s arrest. The FBI says Fairfax never told them about the bomb. Fairfax says he rigged it so that it couldn’t explode.
Cyndi Steele (pictured below) slammed the investigation into her husband at a press conference last month and said Fairfax is the real criminal.
She believes her husband is innocent and suggests tapes of him discussing plans to kill her and her mother with Fairfax were manufactured by the federal government to retaliate against Edgar Steele. Steele is a former lawyer for the Aryan Nations who describes himself as the “attorney for the damned.”
Cyndi Steele’s attorney, Wesley Hoyt, filed a motion last month to lift the no contact order between the Steeles.
In a seven-page memorandum filed Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said Steele has provided no basis to lift the order. She included a transcript of a phone call Edgar Steele made to his wife form the Kootenai County Jail the weekend after his arrest.
In it, Steele urged her to tell authorities the voice on the recording does not belong to him.
“No matter what you hear, no matter what you think, no matter what you feel, you have to say the following: ‘No, that is not my husband’s voice,’” Steele said. “Then like a rhinoceros in the road, you have to stand your ground and refuse to say anything but that.”
The call led to a witness tampering charge against Edgar Steele.
Whelan also cited a birthday card that Steele addressed to his daughter but investigators say is clearly written to his wife. Read the motion here.
Steele’s public defender, Roger Peven, recently filed a motion requesting that federal authorities disclose information about other informants in the case. Read that motion here.
The alleged victim in a murder for hire plot is trying to get rid of the no contact order between herself and the suspect, who is also her husband.
Through her lawyer, Wesley Hoyt, Cyndi Steele filed a motion Monday to vacate the no contact order. A hearing is set for Oct. 7, the same day Larry Fairfax, the alleged hitman turned FBI informant, is to plead guilty and be sentenced on two federal weapons charges. (Hoyt and Steele are pictured above at a press conference Sept. 20.)
Cyndi Steele is objecting to Fairfax’s plea, saying he’s the real mastermind of the murder plot, not her husband, Edgar Steele (right).
In a 13-page motion, Hoyt alleges FBI Special Agent Mike Sotka improperly influenced Cyndi Steele’s perception of the case. Hoyt argues phone calls between the Steeles don’t influence Cyndi Steele’s perception “nor will any future communications with her husband have any influence on her testimony,” according to the motion.
Cyndi Steele “evaluates information independently based on her own perceptions and refused to be influenced by others such as her husband or S.A. Sotka,” the motion reads.
The couple relies on each other for financial advice, and Edgar Steel has extensive knowledge of the family’s websites and business interests that are crucial to Cyndi Steele, according to the affidavit.
“They can make you say anything,” Wesley Hoyt said of the federal government. “They can say you murdered a 100 nuns and set the Vatican on fire.”
Hoyt, a Colorado-based attorney representing Cyndi Steele pro bono, was talking about a key component of Edgar Steele’s defense theory - that the tapes depicting Steele plotting the murder of his wife and mother-in-law with Larry Fairfax aren’t authentic.
Hoyt, a former Idaho County prosecutor who writes a column for the Central Idaho Post, joined Cyndi Steele at a press conference at a Coeur d’Alene motel Monday, blasting the government for prosecuting Edgar Steele and calling on the media to investigate what they say is a corrupt case.
He said murder-for-hire is a charge used by federal prosecutors to target specific people.
Hoyt pointed to the case David Roland Hinkson, (left)a wealthy North Idaho businessman convicted in 2005 of plotting to kill federal officials involved in a separate, federal tax case against Hinkson’s water business.
Described as a “hard-core patriot” by his anti-government associates, Hinkson was convicted by a jury and is to be released from prison in 30 years.
Edgar Steele mentioned another murder-for-hire defendant when talking with his wife June 13: Matt Hale, (right) a neo-Nazi convicted of soliciting a federal judge’s murder in 2003. In the phone call, which led to a witness tampering charge against Steele, the North Idaho lawyer calls the recording of him speaking to Fairfax “a mission impossible world class level production.”
“This is coming from the very top level, and they are after me. They are not going to settle for anything less than putting me in prison for 20 or 25 years. I guarantee you that,” Edgar Steele said. “This is going to be just like the Matt Hale case- exactly - and he’s in there on 25 years right now.” (Federal prison records show Hale actually isn’t scheduled to be released until 2037.)
Hale solicited the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow after she enforced a court order that Hale’s racist group change its name after losing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Both Hale and Hinkson were convicted by juries and are serving lengthy sentences in federal prisons.
The wife of a North Idaho lawyer accused of hiring someone to kill her will hold a press conference this afternoon in front of the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.
Cyndi Steele is standing by her husband, Edgar Steele, and railed against federal prosecutors in a 16-page affidavit filed earlier this month.
Cyndi Steele says the U.S. Attorney’s Office has violated her rights as a victim by striking a plea deal with Larry Fairfax, who the FBI says was hired to murder Cyndi and her mother but instead helped build a case against Edgar.
Edgar Steele remains in the Spokane County Jail, where prosecutors have accused him of violating a no contact order with his wife by mailing her a birthday card in late July.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said her office plans to investigate the origins of the affidavit signed by Cydni, which Whelan said appears to be an attempt to bolster Edgar’s defense.
But Steele’s advocates say the couple is simply a victim of an out-of-control federal government.
They’ve created a website chronicling their efforts and thoughts on the case. Cyndi Steele is expected to speak today at 4 p.m.
A plea hearing for an alleged hitman-turned-informant has been postponed until October.
Larry A. Fairfax, 49, has agreed to plead guilty to two federal weapons charges connected to a pipe bomb placed under Cyndi Steele’s car as part of a murder plot the FBI says was hatched by her husband, former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele.
But Fairfax was reluctant to admit on Tuesday that the device had the potential to explode, and a hearing scheduled for Thursday was postponed because of scheduling conflicts with the judge, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan.
Cyndi Steele has hired a lawyer and filed a 16-page affidavit objecting to the proposed plea deal, alleging her rights as a victim have been violated. Fairfax’s new hearing is set for Oct. 7. Steele’s lawyer is Wesley Hoyt, who unsuccessfully defended a wealthy North Idaho businessman convicted in 2005. of plotting to kill federal officials.
At the time, Hoyt had said the case against David Roland Hinkson, described as a “hard-core patriot” by his anti-government associates, was brought by witnesses who were seeking to take over Hinkson’s business or wanted large amounts of money from him.
Hinkson (pictured) was convicted of soliciting the murders of U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy D. Cook, and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Steven M. Hines.
All three had been involved in a separate, federal tax case against Hinkson’s water business. None of the officials was harmed.
Hinkson is imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colo., and is to be released in 30 years.
Hoyt, former prosecuting attorney for Idaho County, is a member of Robert J. Hopp and Associates and is licensed to practice in Colorado and Idaho, according to his website.
Past coverage of the Hinkson case:
In a 16-page affidavit prosecutors suggested may have originated with her jailed husband, alleged murder plot target Cyndi Steele rails against a plea deal arranged with FBI informant Larry Fairfax and accuses the U.S. Attorney’s Office of violating her rights as a victim.
The document, filed under seal but emailed to the Spokesman-Review by an associate of Steele’s, can be read here.
In it, Steele calls for Fairfax to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder and says the FBI told her about murder plot co-conspirators who still have not been arrested. She claims the FBI knew of the 12-inch pipe bomb affixed to her SUV (pictured) before auto shop employees discovered it June 15 and says they allowed her to drive from Oregon to North Idaho knowing the device was on her car.
Steele says her fear over the bomb was fueled by death threats made against her family, including her children, “whenever my husband would take political positions on various issues,” according to the affidavit. “Death threats occurred quite often when my husband was acting as a First Amendment defense lawyer protecting the individual’s right to freedom of speech….Some of these death threats were made by persons affiliated with the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that has professed a strong dislike for my husband and some of his political positions.”
The Anti-Defamation League did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Steele called for the plea hearing to be postponed, but U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill declined, noting she’d filed her request that morning despite knowing of the hearing for two weeks.
“I have to question either the motive or the sincerity of their request,” Winmill said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said the affidavit contains opinions and statements she believes aren’t true. She said Cyndi Steele has made it clear she wants nothing to do with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She’s been in contact with the office in two occasions - to retrieve her husband’s computer and to retrieve silver she says Fairfax stole but investigators say was given to him as a partial payment in the murder-for-hire plot, Whelan said.
A plea hearing for the hit-man-turned-informant in an alleged North Idaho murder plot was postponed Tuesday because the suspect was reluctant to acknowledge that the pipe bomb he’s accused of placing under the would-be victim’s car could have exploded.
The move to delay the approval of Larry A. Fairfax’s plea deal came the same day an affidavit signed by his alleged target, Cyndi Steele, was filed in U.S. District Court objecting to the proposed deal with Fairfax. The affidavit said approving the deal “would be like letting Charles Manson off with a traffic ticket.”
A Sagle man who investigators say was hired by Edgar Steele to kill Steele’s wife and mother-in-law is expected to plead guilty to federal weapons charges next week.
Larry A. Fairfax, 49, faces a maximum 10 years in prison but federal sentencing guidelines show he could receive as little as 18 months.
A plea hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene, said Traci Whelan, assistant U.S. attorney.
Sentencing has not been scheduled. Fairfax has agreed to cooperate fully with investigators, but a plea agreement filed Aug. 20 said the deal “is not contingent upon the conviction of any person.”
The reported victim in an alleged murder-for-hire plot appears to be supporting the main suspect in the case – her husband, former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar J. Steele.
Cyndi Steele joined her husband’s supporters in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene Wednesday as Edgar Steele, 65, pleaded not guilty to four additional felonies, one that carries a mandatory sentence of at least 30 years in federal prison.
She spent several minutes talking to her husband’s public defender, Roger Peven, and to her husband’s friends before leaving without speaking to a reporter.
Several of Edgar Steele’s supporters said the case against him is a fraud and called him a “political prisoner” targeted because of his legal work against the federal government. They pointed to voice impersonation software they say was used to fabricate recordings of Steele discussing the murder plot with Sagle man Larry Fairfax, who the FBI said wore a hidden recording device after telling investigators of Steele’s plan.
Read the rest of my story here.
A former lawyer for the Aryan Nations is asking a judge to stop federal investigators from searching materials seized from his North Idaho home law office.
Edgar J. Steele is concerned government searches may compromise attorney-client privilege, according to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.
“There is a concern that Mr. Steele represents clients and groups that are of interest to the government,” wrote Steele’s federal public defenders, Roger Peven and Kailey Moran.
Steele is accused of hiring someone to kill his wife and mother-in-law. He’s being housed at the Spokane County Jail after a raid June 11 at his home on Talache Road, east of Shepherd Lake near Sagle, where the FBI believes he plotted with Sagle resident Larry Fairfax to use pipe bombs kill Cynthia Steele and her mother-in-law. Fairfax went to the FBI and secretly recorded Steele talking of the plot, leading to Steele’s arrest, according to court documents.
Fairfax waived a grand jury indictment last week and is charged through complaint with possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful manufacturing of a firearm. He’s being held without bail.
Steele’s lawyers say they’ve received copies of conversations between Fairfax and Steele, but no other evidence, including the items seized from Steele’s home, has been provided. The motion filed Monday seeks a preliminarily injunction to stop the search of Steele’s computers and files “until the warrant can be received to determine if proper procedures are in place to protect the privacy of the information seized.”
Moran did not return a phone call seeking comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t yet filed a response, and no hearing for the motion has been scheduled.
Federal murder-for-hire suspect Edgar Steele will stay in jail pending trial after a judge found he had attempted to intimidate potential witnesses in the case – his wife and son.
In a detention hearing Tuesday, federal prosecutors played two tapes of phone conversations Steele had with his wife, Cyndi, and his son, Rex, while being held at Kootenai County Jail on June 13.
On the tapes, Steele warns his wife that she will be contacted by government officials the following morning and will be asked to authenticate his voice on recordings that he tells her are doctored to sound as if he’s hiring a hit man to kill her. He pleads with her to say that it’s not his voice she hears on the tapes.
Listen to the recordings above.
Read Alison Boggs’s story on today’s hearing here.
A suspected hitman-turned-informant who federal investigators say didn’t tell them he’d already planted a bomb on the car of a murder-plot target was ordered held without bail on Monday.
U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale called her decision to keep Larry A. Fairfax, 49, behind bars “very difficult” but said he was a danger to the community.
Fairfax has been in jail since June 11 after auto shop employees found a pipe bomb attached to a car brought in by Steele’s wife Cyndi Steele for an oil change. The Sagle man told investigators the week before that he’d been hired by Steele to murder Steele’s wife and mother-in-law but didn’t tell them about the pipe bomb, federal agents testified on Monday.
The two-hour hearing included testimony from Fairfax’s 26-year-old son, wife of 31 years and a retired judge and lawyer, Jim Michaud, who called Fairfax “about the hardest working guy I know.”
Read the rest of my story here.