July 8, 2010
Phony lawyer Howard Kieffer facing an upward departure in his federal sentencingPersons who follow the federal sentencing system have long known the name Howard Kieffer, and this local story suggests he may now break new legal ground in the role of convicted defendant instead of in his previous (fraudulent) role as a lawyer. The story is headlined "Judge plans to get tough in sentencing fake attorney," and here are excerpts:
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....
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.
July 8, 2010 at 12:22 PM | Permalink
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Howard, I regret to say, has sociopathic tendencies which fooled the courts and more importantly, real federal criminal defense lawyers. I had known of Howard for years as a BOP 'consultant' but we had never met. Incredulously, Howard fooled academia too: He attended the Stanford University Law School Roundtable on Blakely for Law Professors (September 2004). We then met and I had the opportunity to personally accuse him of fraud in connection with his "practice." Tweed sport coat and patches, no less.
Posted by: bw | Jul 8, 2010 8:04:48 PM
I am no fan of Howard Kieffer; I believe that his multiple crimes and criminal history merit an appropriate punishment from the sentencing court. I remain concerned, however, that the sanction he receives will be more onerous because he caught the federal courts with their administrative pants down. He uncovered flaws in the federal court admission to practice system - several trial and appellate courts were embarrased by the ease with which he was allowed to appear. Much angst and posterior protection effort resulted. Kieffer should be punished for his fraudulent activity and not for the holes in the system that facilitated that behavior.
Posted by: alan chaset | Jul 8, 2010 8:16:40 PM
I fully concur with Alan and believe that Howard should receive a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary. There are numerous cases, however, in which upward departures have been upheld on the ground that the defendant's conduct undermined confidence in the integrity of the judiciary; disruption of governmental function; or the extent to which was not adequately captured by §3C1.1. Yes, he should receive a parsimonious sentence consistent with 3553.
Posted by: Benson Weintraub | Jul 8, 2010 8:33:20 PM
Would you please look into the news articles on the plea and nearly 5 year sentence given to attorney Jessica Miller Redinger in Florida? She pled after being threatened with 40 years in state prison while the office manager who actually stole the money has had delay after delay while "cooperating" with the state. Something ain't right here.
Posted by: mj | Jul 9, 2010 4:02:59 AM
Maybe Judge Arguello has been watching too much Judge Judy.
Posted by: John K | Jul 9, 2010 1:15:35 PM
John k .hey can u challange the contstitutianality of a prior felony conv. When its being used to charge as an habitual offender?.please contact me at 8504498346.please
Posted by: Patrick hebert | Jul 9, 2010 1:42:47 PM
ahh now we see the REAL problem!
"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."
Since i have heard nothing about all these crininal cases nor anything about them now sueing him becasue of bad representation i have to figure the REAL reason the court sytem is mad is some REGULAR person had the GAUL to actually act as a lawyer (an action that till recetnly used to be LEGAL) AND WIN!
Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 9, 2010 1:53:57 PM
Would love to help, Patrick, but I'm not a lawyer. And in light of what just happened to phony lawyer Howard Kieffer, I for one plan to never again say anything that might be mistaken for legal advice.
What I will say, though, is that the Constitution doesn't seem to be the vaunted guardian of rights our civics teachers told us it was.
As it turns out, typically only one thing stands between citizens accused of crimes and authorities intent on putting them in prison: whether judges reviewing cases rule the authorities acted "reasonably," even if seemingly out of sync with the spirit of the Constitution. And guess what, these days judges almost always side with the authorities.
I hope I'm wrong in your case, Patrick.
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