A man accused of impersonating a lawyer in ten states’ federal courts has pleaded not guilty to felony charges and said he won’t act as his own criminal defense attorney in the case.
The man was hired as a criminal defense attorney in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.
He was busted after one of his clients, who was facing sexual assault charges in Minnesota, became suspicious when he paid Kieffer $37,000 to represent him and then was ignored by Kieffer. The man wrote a letter to the federal judge to say that Kieffer was not actually a criminal defense attorney—or any attorney, for that matter.
Howard O. Kieffer, 53, was charged with mail fraud and making false statements when he was granted permission in 2007 to practice law in North Dakota’s federal court system. Although he did not handle any criminal defense cases in that state, he was accused of using his “good standing” in North Dakota to get permission to practice criminal defense law in the other states.
Last month a U.S. district court judge ordered Kieffer disbarred, but he is currently free on $25,000 bond.
The mail fraud charge carries up to 20 years imprisonment and the false statement charges carries a sentence of up to five years in jail. Both charges carry a possible fine of $250,000.
Kieffer heads an Internet discussion group on federal prison issues and has been quoted as an expert on the matter by the Washington Post, among other media outlets.
Four years ago, Kieffer also defended former St. Louis Blues hockey player, Michael Danton, who pleaded guilty to plotting to kill his agent and was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison.