Monday, July 12, 2010

Fake Lawyer To Get the Max

Back in April I told you about the fake lawyer, Howard Kiefer (pic) who presided over among numerous matters, the conviction of "his client"Gwen Bergmans' murder for hire prosecution.  What I found astounding back then was the refusal of the trial judge in that case to immediately vacate the conviction under the 8th amendment provision of the US Constitution providing for (actual) representation by counsel. 

Over the weekend the Denver Post reports that the US District Judge with jurisdiction in Kiefer's prosecution has informed his attorneys and Kiefer that she plans to go maximum on his Bad Lawyer-ass.  This is Felisa Cardona's story in the Post:

"U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello told fake attorney Howard O. Kieffer on Wednesday that, given his 30-year criminal history, she intends to send him to prison for longer than is recommended by sentencing guidelines.

Kieffer, 54, was convicted in April of wire fraud, making false statements and contempt of court. The con man pretended to be a licensed criminal attorney and represented an Aspen woman during a trial in Denver's federal court. Gwen Bergman was accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her son's father, and her family hired Kieffer for nearly $70,000. 

A check of federal records found Kieffer represented at least 16 clients in 10 different federal jurisdictions since 2004. He was caught in 2008.

'The roots of your scheme and your conduct throughout the years has been nothing but deception,' Arguello said. 'You used your knowledge of the court system to take advantage of the system, those families and the courts.'

Arguello read from a long list of Kieffer's crimes, dating to 1976, when he was 20 years old and in possession of 20 pieces of stolen mail containing about $20,000 in checks. Later that year, Kieffer was caught with a bad check and given 12 months of probation. He was also convicted of driving under the influence.  In 1983, he pleaded guilty to grand theft because he misused an employer's credit cards. Two years later, he made up a false deed of a deceased woman's house and used it to take out loans on the property.

By age 33, Kieffer found himself in federal prison for five years after filing false tax returns.  Arguello said she doesn't believe the federal sentencing guidelines are sufficient in Kieffer's case.  The guidelines suggest Kieffer spend 60 months in prison at the same time as an 51-month prison sentence he is serving for the same criminal conduct out of North Dakota.

Arguello intends to sentence Kieffer to prison time consecutive to the time he is already serving. The judge asked Kieffer's attorney, Nathan Chambers, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stewart Walz to submit briefs of their position on her intentions for a tougher prison term.  Sentencing is set for [August.]
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I like how Judge Arguello talks about the "roots" of Kiefer's crimes being deception.  I feel that the Judge chose an apt metaphor applicable to each of our lives, certainly, mine.  What are the roots of your life?  Who planted the seeds?

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