• Wife believes circumstances of death warrant a full-blown investigation.
By Pete Papaherakles —
On the afternoon of September 4, 2014, a California mortuary official notified Cyndi Steele that her husband Edgar was dead. Edgar Steele, one of the most outspoken American patriots, was pronounced dead at the age of 69, behind bars at California’s United States Penitentiary, Victorville (USP Victorville). While the official autopsy is still pending, at this time Steele’s death is officially being ruled the result of declining health. His wife contends that conditions surrounding his death were highly suspicious.
In 2010, Steele was set up with a bogus conspiracy to murder his wife. After a short, staged trial, he was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison by a corrupt judge who did not allow key information to be presented in court. Making matters worse, a compromised defense attorney—who has since been disbarred—betrayed Steele after sentencing by failing to fight an order sending Steele to the notorious Victorville, considered America’s worst. Few people ever come out of Victorville alive.
AMERICAN FREE PRESS spoke with Cyndi Steele on September 5. In the interview, she expressed concern that her husband might have been murdered in prison.
Mrs. Steele had not seen her husband since November 2011, when he was moved to Victorville.
“I was never allowed to visit him despite a court order allowing visitation,” explained Mrs. Steele. “Edgar was allowed 20 15-minute phone calls per month and he called me about every other day. I began to worry when I hadn’t heard from him for over a week, but there was noway for me to talk to him unless he called me. I was planning to book a flight to California to see if I could force my way in to see him and find out how he was doing, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Mrs. Steele is extremely upset that she was not contacted by a Victorville representative in the last few days about Steele’s failing health or even called regarding his death.
“It was cruel to allow the mortuary to make the call,” she said.
She added: “The last time I spoke with Edgar was three weeks ago, and he was in good health. I could not have imagined he would die three weeks later.”
What is worse was that Mrs. Steele had to find out the details surrounding Steele’s last days from a supporter, who had been contacted by another prisoner in Victorville.
“Robert Magnuson, president of the Edgar Steele Defense Fund, received an email the morning of the day Edgar passed away,” Mrs. Steele said. “It was a message sent several days earlier to a friend from a Victorville inmate who knew Edgar and was watching his back. The inmate, who saw Edgar after not having seen him for a couple of weeks, said Edgar’s health was in sharp decline. He was in a wheelchair, was disoriented, hallucinating and wasn’t recognizing anyone. He was skinny as a skeleton, half-naked, unkempt and seemed heavily drugged. Later in the day I got the news that Edgar passed away.”
Adding insult to injury, the funeral home in Portland that was to receive Steele’s body for burial called Mrs. Steele to inform her that they would not accept the body.
“This was a slap in the face,” Mrs. Steele lamented during a follow-up interview with AFP on September 9. “This funeral home has handled my mother and other family members, yet they were now unwilling to handle Ed. After researching who Ed was, they were probably afraid of trouble and a blemish to their reputation.”
Pete Papaherakles is a writer and political cartoonist for AFP and is also AFP’s outreach director. Pete is interested in getting AFP writers and editors on the podium at patriotic events. Call him at 202-544-5977 if you know of an event you think AFP should attend.
Edgar Steele . . . In His Own Words
By Dave Gahary
Whether or not you’re of the mind to believe that Edgar J. Steele is guilty or innocent of charges that he wanted to have his wife assassinated, there are some facts of his case that can shed light upon his arrest, indictment, trial, conviction and incarceration. A close look at his treatment by law enforcement should convince anyone that the authorities had it out for this man, and there is ample evidence to show this to be the case.
This writer had the privilege of conducting a series of audio interviews with Steele for this newspaper in May 2011, which have never been made public nor heard by anyone. They were conducted between May 18 and May 25, while the noted First Amendment attorney was housed at the Bonner County Detention Center in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Below is a word-for-word transcript of our first eight-minute conversation, where Steele explains his living conditions, treatment by his overlords, slanted rulings and his relationship with his wife, Cyndi. It ends with an incomplete sentence since the call disconnects after a 60-second warning.
Steele: In His Own Words
I’ve been in four different county jails now. This is the best jail I’ve been in. The condition in those other three jails, all of them were much worse than here and some of them considerably worse. One thing that’s been in common is that in all four of the jails, I have been held in maximum security, which is where I’m at right now. But in Spokane, Ada and Kootenai counties, it was maximum security, solitary, full lockdown, meaning you could never get out the cell door during the day. And in Spokane County, I was held in those conditions and denied visitation from anybody. I was denied the right to even call my attorneys for the longest time.
They have been astounding in the way that they have treated me throughout this case. Always it’s been the U.S. Marshals Service responsible for
transporting federal prisoners and maintaining order in and about the courtroom when a federal prisoner is present. It’s been the U.S.Marshals Service that’s been pointed to as being the problem.
In reality, the problem is the U.S. attorney, because the U.S. attorney seems to call the shots in cases I’ve handled in the past, and that’s whose been silently manipulating things in the background in my case.
Let me give you an example. Just prior to the trial, I had asked for a conference with my wife to talk about the case. Remember, I’ve been laboring under a no-contact order. I wasn’t even able to talk to her about anything, until about six months ago. And at that time, the judge modified it so that I could talk to my wife, with an attorney present, with it being recorded, with copies of the recordings being provided both to the U.S. attorney and lodged with the court.
I couldn’t talk about the case.We could only talk about family business. We would slip a few ‘love yous’ in there, too.
But I asked him specifically to lift that order, just prior to trial, so that I could discuss with her and get her feelings about whether I should testify, because you don’t have to testify when you’re the defendant in a criminal trial. The idea being that you violate your right to self-incrimination, perhaps. The judge said, “OK, you could talk to her for 15 minutes.”
Well, here’s the way they let me talk to her: They brought me into the courtroom in leg irons and what I call “traveling chains,” which is a chain around my waist strapped to handcuffs. And they made me come in that way in front of her, which caused her to break down crying immediately. And I sat down, five feet away fromher across this solid oak table, and around us were eight U.S. Marshals, to ensure that I didn’t do something crazy, ‘cause I’m such a dangerous character, don’t you know. We were allowed 15 minutes, period, not 15 minutes and 10 seconds, to discuss it. And based on that discussion, I decided not to testify, primarily because she told me that I’d be my own worst enemy if I did that, given my state of mind.
You have to understand, my wife is my partner, my confidant, my lover, my everything, my best friend. For 25 years, I’ve used her as a sounding board. She knows me better than anybody else in the world, so I give her advice weight well beyond what a lot of people would give to even their wives, because I trust her so much.
Now, listen. What’s wrong with this picture, by the way? Supposedly, she’s the woman that I wanted dead? And listen to the way I’m talking about her.
Anyway, that 15 minutes of me in leg irons and traveling chains, across the table with eight Marshals hovering around us, epitomizes the way that I have been treated since the day I was arrested. And it’s been just like that, and worse at times.
I was taken to Spokane County jail, and I was put in what they call “the hole.” It’s the “jail’s jail.” If you get in a fight with another guy, if you attack a guard, and injure them, they’ll put you in the hole. That’s where they started me. They left me there for a month. They denied me the right to even talk to my attorney for most of that month. I couldn’t call him. I couldn’t see him. He didn’t even know where I was.
That’s how it all started. . . .
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.