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Monday, March 14, 2016

The Edgar Steele Murder-For-Hire Case

     Edgar J. Steele, in 2010, resided with his wife Cyndi on a horse ranch near the town of Sagle in northern Idaho. Ten years earlier the lawyer, who billed himself as the "attorney for the damned," represented Aryan Nations founder and leader Richard Butler in a civil suit the white supremacist lost.

     In January 2010, the 65-year-old Steele solicited a man (who was not identified in the media) to kill his 50-year-old wife and her mother by staging a fatal car accident. According to the murder-for-hire plan, Steele would pay the hit man $25,000. If his wife's life insurance paid off, Steele would kick in an additional $100,000 for the double-hit.

     On June 9, 2010, the man Steele had solicited for murder got cold feet and called the FBI. The next time the would-be hit man and the mastermind met, the snitch secretly recorded Steele soliciting the murders of his wife and his mother-in-law.

     Two days after the FBI learned of the murder-for-hire plot, agents arrested Steele at his home. While the attorney sat in the Kootenai County Jail, FBI agents questioned his wife.

     According to Cyndi Steele, between 2000 and 2010, her husband had sent 14,000 emails to hundreds of Ukrainian women. In 2000, she caught him soliciting relationships with Ukrainian women on Match.com. To lay a trap, Cyndi posted a phony profile of her own on Match.com under a fake name. Steele replied to her posting. Not long after Cyndi filed for divorce, she and her husband reconciled.

     A few days following Steele's arrest, Cyndi decided to get an oil change before driving to Oregon to visit her mother. When an employee of the oil change service looked under her SUV, he discovered a pipe bomb. ATF agents responded to the scene and disarmed the device.

     Shortly after the car bomb discovery, FBI agents arrested Larry Fairfax, a former Steele handyman. Fairfax confessed to planting the car bomb on May 20, 2010. According to Fairfax, Edgar Steele had given him $10,000 in silver coins as a downpayment for the murder of Cyndi and her mother. As part of the murder-for-hire plan, Fairfax was supposed plant a pipe bomb under Edgar Steele's car, a device the murder-for-hire mastermind could detonate to make himself look like an intended victim.

     On June 15, 2010, a grand jury sitting in Coeur d' Arlene indicted Edgar Steele on two counts of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. The grand jury also indicted him for tampering with a federal witness. (From his jail cell, Steele had called his wife to tell her that the voice on the audio tape that contained the murder-for-hire conversation with the FBI snitch was not him.)

     The government provided Steele, who claimed he was broke, with a federal public defender. However, by February 2011, Steele's supporters had raised $120,000 for his defense. That allowed the accused to hire Robert T. McAllister, a prominent trial attorney from Denver.

     In January 2011, Larry Fairfax pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the placing of the pipe bomb on the intended victim's car. In return for his promise to testify against Steele at his upcoming trial, the judge sentenced Fairfax to 27 months in prison.

     The Edgar Steele murder-for-hire trial got underway on April 30, 2011 in Coeur d' Arlene, Idaho before federal judge B. Lynn Winmill. Assistant United States Attorney Traci Jo Whelan, in an effort to establish the defendant's motive in the case, introduced several love letters Steele had written from his jail cell to a Ukrainian woman named Tatyana Loginova.

     The prosecutor also introduced the audio taped murder-for-hire conversations between Steele and Larry Fairfax. The former handyman took the stand and explained why he had planted the pipe bomb under Cyndi Steele's SUV.

     Defense attorney Robert McAllister portrayed the government's case against his client as a conspiracy based on fabricated audio tapes, perjured testimony, and FBI wrongdoing. According to McAllister, the federal government objected to Steele's political beliefs and wanted to silence him.

     Cyndi Steele, one of the intended victims, took the stand to testify on her husband's behalf. (This was not the first time in a murder-for-hire case where the targeted wife stood by the husband who had plotted her death.)

     On May 5, 2011, the jury of eleven women and one man found Edgar Steele guilty on all counts. Seven months after this verdict, Judge Winmill sentenced the murder-for-hire mastermind to fifty years in prison at the federal corrections facility at Victorville, California.

     Steele, with the help of a new lawyer, appealed his conviction to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. According to the appellant, Judge Winmill had improperly instructed the jury. Steele also claimed that he had been denied adequate counsel. This assertion was based on the fact that one month after the guilty verdict, attorney McAllister was disbarred for stealing money in an unrelated case. As a result, he had been so distracted by his own legal problems that he hadn't performed well for Steele.

     In October 2013, the three-judge panel sitting on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Steel's murder-for-hire conviction. The decision, however, did not deter Steele's ardent supporters, people who claimed the FBI framed him because of his anti-government politics. They continued, without result, to fight for his freedom.

     

6 comments:

  1. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your interest in this story as I work on it to. The guy that worked with the FBI to frame Steele is named Larry Fairfax. He had worked for several years as a handyman on the Steele ranch.

    Also, the Ukranian bride investigation was only a year or so. Edgar originally got involved with this because a client hired him to recover the money he was bilked out of on one of those brides sites. Later, Edgar, with Cyndi's permission, kept the investigation going as Edgar was going to write a book about it.

    I filmed the 2.5 hour documentary on this case. I'd be happy to send you one by post at no charge.

    Best regards,
    Dave

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    1. Jim: Were you the one who did the long begging bowl propaganda video for Cyndi? If so you did good work. If you want to know what happened you can reach me thru www.steelewentcrazy.org . I need help getting Steele out of prison. We have unposted updates.

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  2. Jim: You didn't get your facts quite right. Cyndi is a self professed gold digger who tried to take her husband for everything but the shirt off his back. She caught him looking for women on match.com in 2000 and filed for divorce. He wrote a 26 page love letter to Tatyana from his jail cell while awaiting trial. If you want to know what went on go to www.steelewentcrazy.org .

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  3. Complete files of the case are available at www.steelewentcrazy.org/steele

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  4. If you continue to publish that Steele is not guilty, you are doing nothing better than confusing future potential jurors in regard to how to weigh evidence. You are creating cognitive dissonance about what constitutes "evidence." The evidence in this case of Steele's guilt is overwhelming. There is both direct and circumstantial evidence of guilt. It may be that Cyndi Steele has two motives in "sticking by her man". One is for her children, as she may not want them to believe that their own flesh and blood is a murderer. The other is the donation money plied out of good will people who "want" to believe that Steele is not guilty and has been framed and that truth is on their side. You are teaching them to become blind people. You are also teaching them to fear that they do not have any freedom to speak on unpopular subjects, which they still do. No one wished to "frame" Steele for the subjects he wrote about. The authorities did not consider him any great threat, to be sure. This "rants" were nothing more than that. This whole event tells me that neither the mother or father are honorable people, albeit I have some pity for the wife. Steele is now dead. He is no hero. If I were you, I would drop this thing. Take up another cause wherein the "truth" is on your side. Do not take up a cause where it is not. After all, the people donating this this unworthy cause wish to be on the side of truth in all things.

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