May 25, 2013 in City
Vestal: Jeffreys has no hang-ups about judge’s order
Prosecutors have alleged a lot of things about Greg Jeffreys.
A lot, lot, lot of things. We can now add: defiant dialer.
Jeffreys – accused of a massive series of simply astonishing real estate frauds – has been engaged in more or less open defiance of a federal court order not to contact people associated with his case, from his girlfriend and co-defendant to his victims. Most recently, prosecutors argue, Jeffreys has organized a scheme from the Benton County Jail in which he uses the phone accounts of six other inmates to violate his no-contact order.
All that calling has led prosecutors to ask that Shannon Stiltner, Jeffreys’ girlfriend, co-defendant and phone correspondent, be hauled back into jail pending trial and that both Jeffreys and Stiltner be ordered to persuade a judge that they should not be held in contempt of court.
“The Government does not file this motion lightly,” prosecutors wrote in documents filed this week. “However, after systemic, ongoing violations of court orders, clear and repeated judicial admonitions to follow the orders, and the defendants’ continuing disregard for the law, criminal contempt proceedings are now the only appropriate recourse.”
If the allegations are correct – and it’s worth noting that Jeffreys’ attorney makes little to no effort to deny or explain away the calls – it is yet further evidence suggesting that Jeffreys believes the rules simply do not apply to him and that he can talk the facts into submission.
It’s not terribly dissimilar from the attitudes that underlay the crimes he’s accused of. Jeffreys is charged in a 73-count indictment with orchestrating a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme, in which he conned investors into buying into fictional properties. Stiltner and his wife, Kim Jeffreys, are also charged. Jeffreys is being held in the Benton County Jail while awaiting trial, and Stiltner and Kim Jeffreys have been released on bonds.
The exact relationship between these parties is a subject of some debate in court. Jeffreys insists that he has divorced his wife and plans to marry Stiltner. Jeffreys has used this claim as the basis for asking a judge to allow him to communicate with Stiltner and her daughter, for the “continued emotional and spiritual well-being of all.”
In opposing this motion, prosecutors were unusually direct.
“Defendant Jeffreys’ motion is absurd,” they wrote. “Defendant Jeffreys is not divorced. He is married to co-defendant Kim Jeffreys. A Spokane County records check reveals that neither Defendant Jeffreys or co-defendant Kim Jeffreys have currently filed divorce petitions. A May 13, 2013, recorded jail call … between defendant Jeffreys and co-defendant Kim Jeffreys also confirms that they are, in fact, not divorced.”
Their exact marital status notwithstanding, Jeffreys and Stiltner do seem to be on the phone as frequently as a pair of lovesick teenagers. It was all the way back on Feb. 1, shortly after his arrest, that Jeffreys was first ordered by a federal judge to have no contact with Stiltner or any of the victims in the case.
He almost immediately reached out to one of the victims, prosecutors say, and has communicated with Stiltner repeatedly – through her daughter, by calling her sister’s phone and relaying messages, and even in the courtroom, within sight of the very judge who had ordered him not to.
Meanwhile, he keeps asking to be released from jail.
On Feb. 22, he was denied and ordered to have no contact with Stiltner’s daughter.
In March, he again sought a change in his detention status. At a hearing on his motion on April 1, Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson cited his astonishing record of violating the no-contact orders in turning him down.
“I have to say that the telephone calls that this court reviewed paint a picture of Mr. Jeffreys being in total disregard or interest in following the law and the restrictions that were placed upon him, not only because of the evidence of continued attempts to have contact with other people but in the nature of the conversation,” she said.
So, naturally, having asked and been answered twice, in the sternest terms, Jeffreys is asking for a change in conditions again. Earlier this month, he asked Peterson to allow him to have contact with Stiltner, for the well-being of his spirit.
Prosecutors, in arguing against it, outlined all the apparent contact that he’s already having with Stiltner. Over the course of nine days this month, they say, Jeffreys, Stiltner and Stiltner’s daughter communicated 12 times by phone. These were the calls made on other inmates’ jail accounts, they say.
This is the kind of thing that prompted Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean McLaughlin to assert that Jeffreys “has no respect for the law, has no respect for court orders and is wholly unsupervisable.”
Jeffreys’ attorney, Mark Vovos, meanwhile, can say little in his client’s defense, at least on that point. Vovos makes a stronger case when it comes to assessing, and perhaps downgrading, the way the court has responded to Jeffreys’ threats to kill various people – it’s blustery, vulgar, tough talk from someone whose style is blustery and vulgar, Vovos argues.
But the matter of these phone calls is a tougher one to explain away.
At the hearing in April, after Vovos made a long argument about reasons the judge should release Jeffreys that did not include much mention of the phone calls, Peterson asked him: “Mr. Vovos, do you want to address at all the recordings of the jail telephone calls?”
“Do I want to?” he answered. “Probably not. I don’t mean to be glib about that. It is what it is. … They’re ill-advised.”
Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@spokesman. com. Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.