Edgar Steele was sentenced on Nov. 9, 2011, to 50 years in federal prison for a failed murder-for-hire plot that targeted his wife and mother-in-law with a car bomb.
Steele was convicted May 5 of plotting to kill his wife and mother-in-law. His wife, Cyndi Steele, vowed to appeal the verdict. She believed her husband was targeted because of his defense of unpopular clients, including the Aryan Nations.
The North Idaho lawyer was arrested June 11, 2010, and charged in the plot. That was the day the women were allegedly to be killed in a car crash meant to look like an accident.
Four days later, mechanics found a pipe bomb attached to an SUV driven by Steele’s wife Cyndi Steele, just hours before he pleaded not guilty to the murder-for-hire charge in federal court.
On June 9, Larry Fairfax had told FBI Special Agent Mike Sotka he’d been hired by Steele, whom he said he’d known for 20 years, to kill Steele’s wife and mother-in-law. He said he’d already been paid $10,000 in silver coins, received $400 for travel expenses to Oregon, where Steele’s mother-in-law lives, and was to receive $25,000 for the murders, then $100,000 if an auto insurance claim paid off.
Fairfax was arrested June 15 after he told investigators he made the bomb at his home. Fairfax is accused of placing the bomb on the 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor Limited on May 30, one day before Cyndi Steele was to drive to Oregon. He told police that although he planted the first bomb, he manipulated the fuse to malfunction, according to court documents.
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 in February 2011 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene.
Edgar Steele’s background includes a history of association with North Idaho white supremacists. Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler hired the Sandpoint attorney in 2000 to defend the group from a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of a woman and her son who were shot at outside Butler’s Hayden Lake compound. Although Steele lost the court battle and the $6.3 million jury award bankrupted the group and shut down the compound, he quickly rose to prominence in the extremist movement.
Cyndi Steele, who operates a horse farm on the couple’s property, filed for divorce in June 2000, alleging her husband “misrepresented his marital status and eligibility” in online dating profiles “with the sole intention of meeting women” in San Mateo, Calif., where he maintained a law office. But the case was dismissed two months later and the couple remained married.
When Steele took over the Aryan Nations’ defense, he said it wasn’t because he shared Butler’s beliefs, but because he believed the case was about free speech. He sued The Spokesman-Review over an article he said implied otherwise. The Idaho Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in 2003.
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Murder-for-hire plot nets Steele 50-year term
November 10, 2011 in City, Idaho on Page A1 Professing his innocence and blaming a vast government conspiracy, self-described “attorney for the damned” Edgar Steele was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in federal prison for a foiled murder-for-hire plot … 8
Edgar Steele sentenced to 50 years for murder plot
Prosecutors seek to punish ‘heartless’ crimes
November 9, 2011 in City on Page A7 A former North Idaho attorney convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his wife faces 50 years in prison when he’s sentenced today for what prosecutors call his “chillingly … 2
New lawyer seeks retrial for Steele
August 12, 2011 in City on Page A7 The recently disbarred lawyer who defended North Idaho attorney Edgar Steele at his murder-for-hire trial said in a motion seeking a new trial for Steele that he acted ineffectively because … 5
Tried and convicted, Steele now has plenty to say
Convicted attorney threatens suit over book policy
Steele hitman sentenced
May 12, 2011 in City, Idaho on Page A6 A handyman hired by a North Idaho lawyer to kill his wife was sentenced Wednesday to 27 months in prison for an explosive device he strapped to the intended victim’s … 2
Pipe bomb planter sentenced in Steele murder-for-hire
Near-victim takes devotion to a whole new reality
May 10, 2011 in City on Page A5 Edgar Steele, former Aryan Nations shyster, was found guilty late last week of hiring some thug to blow his wife, Cyndi, (and her mother) to smithereens. Can’t say I didn’t … 17
Huckleberries: He didn’t exactly Steele my heart
May 8, 2011 in City, Idaho on Page B1 As a reporter assigned to cover the human-rights movement in Kootenai County back in the day, I dealt with racists, too. One gave me a swastika tiepin. Another crashed his … 4
Edgar Steele guilty on all counts
Boise jury deliberating in Steele trial
Jury goes home in Steele murder-for-hire case
Edgar Steele murder-for-hire trial wrapping up
Edgar Steele a heavy user of dating website
Steele’s wife says she’s not surprised by emails
Alleged victim defends man charged with trying to have her killed
April 29, 2011 in City on Page A7 BOISE – The alleged victim in a murder-for-hire plot supposedly hatched by her husband told jurors Thursday she knew he was talking to other women online but that it was …
FBI told Steele wife died in car crash
April 28, 2011 in City, Idaho on Page A5 BOISE – The day Edgar Steele was arrested for an alleged murder plot against his wife and mother-in-law, investigators first told him his wife had died in a car crash … 1
Judge says Steele witness unreliable
April 22, 2011 in Idaho on Page A6 BOISE – Edgar Steele’s defense won’t be able to call two expert witnesses it lined up to question the authenticity of FBI tapes of Steele talking about an alleged murder-for-hire … 2
Setback for Steele’s bid to challenge FBI tapes
April 21, 2011 in Idaho Edgar Steele’s defense won’t be able to call two expert witnesses it lined up to question the authenticity of FBI tapes of Steele talking with Larry Fairfax about an alleged … 5