On May 5 this year, controversial attorney Edgar J. Steele was convicted
on a four count indictment. As he awaits sentencing, his alleged co-conspirator, FBI informant Larry Fairfax, has been sentenced
to 27 months in prison, an extremely modest punishment for a man who by his own admission planted a potentially lethal explosive device under a car, and allowed an unsuspecting woman to drive around in it. Steele can expect no such leniency when he is sentenced on August 22. He faces up to thirty years, perhaps more, in prison for his part in an alleged plot to murder his wife and mother-in-law.
Immediately after his arrest, up to his trial, throughout the trial, and after his conviction, Steele has made one consistent claim: he was framed. And that in spite of the existence of audio tapes which appear to show him plotting with Fairfax to murder Cyndi Steele, his wife of twenty-six years, and her mother – his mother-in-law - so that he could take the insurance money and start a new life with a Russian mail order bride.
Steele claims he was targeted because of his track record of defending unpopular clients, clients to whom he appears to have got a shade too close to ideologically, if an analysis of his own writings is anything to go by. “I wuz framed”. Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you, dummy?
Steele has some supporters whom many would regard as ugly, embarrassing, or even an outright liability. It is all too easy for some people to cry foul when they have been caught red-handed, or severely compromised by the evidence. And those active in “radical” politics at both ends of the spectrum are fond of crying not only foul but “government conspiracy”.
In December 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal
was arrested within two minutes of murdering police officer Daniel Faulkner; an empty gun with five spent casings was found at his feet, as was a bullet from the dead man’s gun in Jamal’s chest. There were credible eyewitnesses to the murder, and what has been called a confession but was in reality a boast, that he had shot the man and hoped he died. That didn’t deter Jamal from pleading not guilty, nor his supporters from subjorning perjury and fabricated evidence in a long series of spurious appeals to prevent his execution.
Edgar Steele is at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Jamal, and on the face of it, the evidence against him is just as compelling. On the face of it, there are no holes in the prosecution case, so why then does his wife Cyndi insist that he is innocent, and the tapes, fake?
One of Steele’s most vehement champions is Harold A. Covington, who is regarded by many including himself as America’s leading National Socialist theorist, but scratch away the racial bigotry and the rabid anti-Semitism, and “Wicked Harold” espouses a Libertarian agenda that Ayn Rand herself would relish. In his weekly podcasts, excoriation of the Federal Government is always at the top of his list; his latest such podcast includes a surprising condemnation of the execution of Osama Bin Laden; earlier podcasts have included condemnations of torture, the perceived persecution of Moslems, and the condemnation of American “Imperialism”, so his defence of Edgar Steele is not simply a case of “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”
The inconvenient questions that Covington has posed and continues to ask relate to Steele’s health as much as his motives. In his podcast
of June 17 last year, shortly after Steele’s arrest, he commented “...I find it rather difficult to believe that a sixty-four year old man who just a couple of months ago was in the hospital for major open heart surgery would be concentrating on anything but restoring his health...I would take this opportunity to remind all of you yet again that anyone who attempts to involve you in illegal activity is either a cop or a lunatic, but you never know when he’s wired and there’s a tape running somewhere”.
If Covington could work that out without the benefit of a college education, then so could Steele, who has an MBA as well as a degree from UCLA School of Law.
Steele was alleged to have offered Larry Fairfax $25,000 from the insurance money if the bomb that was planted under the car – his own – killed both women. The mode of execution would have made it appear that Steele was himself the target, with the obvious inference that he had been so targeted for political reasons. There is though a problem with that scenario, Steele and his wife had cancelled their insurance. There are also problems with much of the rest of the evidence; one is that according to Cyndi Steele, her husband had been very kind to her mother. Another is that the Russian bride with whom this semi-invalid geriatric was supposed to elope, was no such thing. Steele was he said, actually researching the trafficking of women for sexual purposes, a claim that doesn’t sound quite so outrageous when his wife claims she was aware
of what he was doing and in fact was looking over his shoulder at one point as he typed a billet doux
to his prospective bride.
If all that sounds incompatible with the State’s claims, the tapes played in court, obviously the most compelling evidence for the jury, are claimed to be bogus. Not simply by Edgar Steele but as stated by Cyndi, who in an extensive radio interview
with Dave Gahary said that before she heard these tapes she was convinced that her husband had indeed intended to murder her, but that they were so obviously fake that she realised at once that he had been framed.
So why was this alleged fabrication not exposed in court? Because the defence was not allowed to adduce expert evidence to that effect! One supporter of Steel has made a bogus tape
which he has posted to the Youtube website; made up entirely from edits of the lawyer’s public speeches, it is only half-convincing; one would expect a much better quality to be produced by some rogue element within the FBI. How credible is such a claim?
Leftists in particular are fond of alluding to the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, including in relation to Mumia Abu-Jamal, and there is certainly evidence in the public domain relating to this. The FBI’s black operations were though concerned primarily with creating discord within groups like the Black Panthers, although they had one spectacular and in retrospect embarrassing succces; Kwanzaa
was invented by a Black “radical” COINTELPRO managed to dupe. In this they appear to have taken a leaf out of the British Army’s book; in his 1960 monograph Gangs and Counter-gangs
, Major Frank Kitson relates how in the fight against Mau Mau in Kenya in the 1950s, he had succeeded in introducing a new Mau Mau oath.
Whether or not the FBI ever went that far, there is one notorious and thoroughly documented example of an FBI informant not only participating in a crime but setting it up from scratch, the framing of John De Lorean
De Lorean was an American whizz kid who got out of his depth when his motor business floundered in the early 1980s. With his company in receivership, he sought a way out, and was arrested for and charged with trafficking cocaine. At his trial in August 1984, he was cleared without a witness being called when his legal team were able to demonstrate that he had been entrapped by FBI shill and drug smuggler James Hoffman.
There is no suggestion by Edgar Steele or anyone fighting his corner that he was entrapped by Larry Fairfax, rather that the crime was initiated and carried out by Fairfax either as part of an FBI operation or for personal reasons – greed – related to the covering up for his theft of silver from the Steele household.
After her husband’s conviction, Cyndi Steele vowed they would fight on. Others of a gentler persuasion than Harold Covington are also determined to prove Steele’s innocence; it may be the only way to do that, or to resolve this issue either way once and for all, is to have the original tapes analysed by independent experts such as the Idaho Innocence Project
. That is unless they go missing mysteriously or become corrupted, as happened with forensic evidence in the ongoing case of Michael Stone
, who is believed by many to be Britain’s longest serving miscarriage of justice prisoner.