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Edgar Steele

Summary

Edgar Steele died in a California prison on Sept. 4, the California prison system confirmed. Cause of death has not been released.

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.

Key people

  • Edgar Steele

  • Larry Fairfax

  • Cyndi Steele

Latest updates in this topic


  • Informant in Steele case pleads guilty to weapons charges

    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.


  • Cyndi Steele alleges conspiracy

    The wife of a North Idaho lawyer accused of plotting her murder said federal agents knew a pipe bomb was attached to her car before it was discovered at a …


  • Intended victim of pipe bomb attack critical of plea bargain

    The intended target of an alleged murder-for-hire plot criticized federal authorities today, saying the plea bargain being offered to the man who admits planting the pipe bomb under her car …


  • Plea in North Idaho pipe bomb case postponed

    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 …


  • Plea deal postponed in Idaho murder-for-hire plot

    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 …


  • Informant to plead guilty in Steele case

    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. …


  • Doug Clark: A song to help you love your Klan man

    Brace yourselves today for “Stand by your Klan,” yet another parody song based on the real-life saga of one of our over-the-top newsmakers. Edgar J. Steele, to be precise.


  • Steele sent wife card, prosecutors claim

    A federal prosecutor alleges in court documents that former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele appears to have violated a no-contact order against his wife, whom he is accused of trying …


  • Prosecutor: Steele likely violated court order

    A federal prosecutor alleges in court documents that former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele appears to have violated a no-contact order with his wife, a woman he is accused of …


  • Federal case against Steele a sham, say supporters

    The reported target in an alleged murder-for-hire plot appears to be supporting the main suspect in the case – her husband, former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele. Cyndi Steele joined …


  • Steele pleads not guilty to new charges

    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.


  • Feds add 3 charges in murder plot case

    A former lawyer for the Aryan Nations jailed in an alleged murder-for-hire plot is to appear in federal court in Coeur d’Alene next week on three additional charges, including allegations …


  • Lawyer in murder plot indicted on 3 new charges

    A former lawyer for the Aryan Nations jailed in an alleged murder-for-hire plot has been indicted on three additional charges related to jailhouse phone calls and explosives discovered after …


  • Judge denies Edgar Steele bail

    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. …


  • Judge orders Steele held after witness intimidation alleged

    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.


  • Informant ordered held without bond

    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 …


  • No bail for suspect in pipe bomb murder plot

    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.


  • Arrest puts Edgar Steele back in public eye

    He called himself “the attorney for the damned,” has gained national attention for his work with high-profile clients and was a coveted speaker in the national racist movement for years. …


  • Steele’s quiet years get suddenly noisy

    He calls himself “the attorney for the damned,” has gained national attention for his work with high-profile clients and was a coveted speaker in the national racist movement for years. …


  • Pipe bomb suspect in federal custody

    A man who approached federal agents last week about an alleged murder-for-hire plot hatched by a former lawyer for the Aryan Nations may have left out a key detail: He’d …


  • Suspect in CdA pipe bomb case captured

    A man who approached federal agents last week about an alleged murder-for-hire plot hatched by a former lawyer for the Aryan Nations may have left out a key detail: He’d …


  • North Idaho murder-for-hire case reset

    The attorney who unsuccessfully defended the Aryan Nations in the landmark 2000 case that bankrupted the racist organization was due to appear Monday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene …


  • North Idaho attorney charged in murder-for-hire plot

    A North Idaho attorney who defended the Aryan Nations and its founder, Richard Butler, is scheduled to appear in federal court today on charges he arranged to have his wife …