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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Idaho

For Immediate Release

May 11, 2011

Wendy J. Olson, United States Attorney

Contact: Pamela Bearg, Public Information Officer
Traci J. Whelan
(208) 667-6568
D. Marc Haws, Assistant United States Attorney
(208) 334-1211

Witness in Steele Trial Sentenced for Manufacturing a Firearm

A key witness in the Edgar Steele trial was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene, for possession of an unregistered firearm and manufacturing a firearm, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.

Larry Fairfax, 50, of Sagle, Idaho, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to 27 months in prison with credit for time served. Fairfax has been in custody since June 15, 2010. After he leaves prison, Fairfax will be required to serve three years of supervised release. The judge fined Fairfax $9,690 and ordered him to pay $1,076.46 in restitution to the State of Idaho Military Division, $860.45 to Quick Lube, and $900 to Cyndi Steele. Fairfax pleaded guilty to the charge in October 2010.

Fairfax testified at trial that he was a handyman who worked for Steele and his wife. He admitted that Steele paid him approximately $10,000 in silver coins as a down payment to kill Steele’s wife and mother-in-law. Fairfax also testified that he had installed the pipe bomb on Mrs. Steele’s car in May 2010 at Edgar Steele’s direction, but that he never intended to kill Mrs. Steele or her mother.

Fairfax has consistently maintained the pipe bomb would not have ignited. According to his plea agreement, after reviewing ATF reports Fairfax did concede it was possible that it could have exploded. Explosives experts testified at trial that the bomb was viable. Fairfax was arrested on June 15, 2010, the day the pipe bomb was discovered by technicians during an oil change of Mrs. Steele car.

Edgar Steele was convicted by a federal jury on May 4 of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, use of explosive material to commit a federal felony, possession of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence, and tampering with a victim. During the seven-day trial, the jury heard audio tapes of Steele making statements to Larry Fairfax, confirming his participation in the murder-for-hire plot. Steele will be sentenced in Coeur d’Alene on August 22, 2011.

Larry Fairfax has been held accountable for his part in the criminal conduct that jeopardized Cyndi Steele’s safety, said Olson. Mr. Fairfax rightly informed the FBI about Edgar Steele’s plot, and now he, too, can be held accountable.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department and the North Idaho Violent Crime Task Force (NIVCTF). The NIVCTF consists of investigators representing the FBI, Idaho State Police, Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, Coeur d’Alene Police Department, Post Falls Police Department, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police Department. The NIVCTF investigates a myriad of violent crimes, including armed robbery, kidnapping, felonious assault and drug trafficking.

This is an example of how collaboration amongst law enforcement partners solves crime. By working together several agencies were able to defuse a potentially deadly situation, which has resulted in the conviction of two individuals in a murder-for-hire plot.