Sex, Lies, and Audiotape (cont.'d)
by Edgar J. Steele
August 8, 2011
How did they pull it off? Easy. They did it the old-fashioned way: they cheated.
How did they manufacture the recordings? We can only speculate, but we can be sure that “they” did manufacture at least the first two recordings because two of the world’s leading forensic audiology experts proved it, then pronounced them to be fakes. They won’t let us hear the third recording, though.
An “extraordinary” number of “electronic transient signatures exist on those two recordings,” said both of our sound experts, indicative of things such as editing, turning microphones on/off, equipment malfunctions and so on. The government itself ruled out everything but editing at trial (not its intent, of course).
Clearly, Larry, the Idahun Handyman Hit Man made recordings of at least some of the conversations that he and I had in the days and weeks leading up to my arrest, because I recognize snippets of some of those conversations in the two incriminating recordings.
Somebody brighter than Larry had to have woven them into the final product, though.
Somebody with a strong motivation to put me away, not to mention the resources.
Somebody arrogant enough to think that I wouldn’t or couldn’t have the resources to have the recordings analyzed closely enough to disclose their chicanery.
Somebody, perhaps, with the ability to keep me locked up and to hold me essentially incommunicado en route to my “fair” trial, for which I was not allowed even to help prepare my own defense or, more importantly, to offer evidence in my own defense.
So – let’s speculate. The FBI admits to violating its own rules in the way that Sotka made the recordings: Only Larry the Idahun Handyman Hit Man and, probably, FBI Agent Sotka know the real truth (aside from me, of course). Larry is a proven and self-admitted liar and thief with a strong motive to lie in this case, so nothing he says can be trusted. Is Sotka a liar, too? Yes, as it turned out – a seeming pathological liar, at that. All we needed then was a dirty prosecutor, which is just what showed up on my case, even before the FBI was assigned my case.
The Million-Dollar Man
They were calling me the “Million Dollar Man” in and around the local Federal courthouse because of the exceptional effort and amount of money that was being employed to ensure that I was put away “for the rest of (my) life,” as promised my wife by FBI Agent Mike Sotka, one of the two people relentlessly and ruthlessly driving my prosecution. You have to ask yourself why such resources were being expended in my prosecution if my guilt was so obvious.
You also have to ask yourself why I, a practicing trial lawyer with a spotless record, had to be held for nearly a year without bail. My family and friends pledged $1 million for bail, only to be repeatedly refused by a Federal magistrate shot through with malice and literally dripping with contempt. Held in solitary confinement for most of that year, not to mention mostly under maximum security and full lock-down, there was no way for me to communicate with others or, more importantly, actually participate in erecting my own trial defense.
Since what remained of my family’s life savings (kept on our property as silver bullion) that had not yet been stolen by Larry, the Idahun Handyman Hit Man, was confiscated by the FBI, I was left with nothing but a public defender. It is not for nothing that such lawyers are called “Public Pretenders,” believe me.
Without my many, many friends who contributed to a Legal Defense Fund, I never could have afforded to hire a private attorney or the forensic audiology experts who uncovered the proof that I had been framed. Of course, I didn’t reckon with my Federal trial judge refusing to allow them to testify.
Nor did I reckon with the fact that I would be denied confidential attorney-client communications by that prosecutor and the judge, but that is a story for another day.
I always have found it curious that the first thing Sotka declared to Cyndi, something he was to stress repeatedly, was “He (me, that is) is a liar.” Umm…about what, exactly, Agent Sotka? Then, of course, the “victim” herself (Cyndi) has complained repeatedly about all the lies that Sotka told her. I, too, have been witness to an extraordinary number of lies told by Agent Sotka.
Why did Sotka have to lie so much if the case against me was such a dead-bang, laydown sure thing? We’ll come back to that question later.
Else, Sotka is dirty, then the possibilities unfold endlessly. He and Larry needn’t ever even have come to my property for anything except, perhaps, to record background noises. I wonder if Sotka possessed the necessary expertise to manufacture recordings? Certainly, the FBI possesses tons of sound-editing expertise, which expertise has been proven repeatedly to have been used to manufacture evidence in the past, both inside and outside the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. But, then, the FBI is so entwined with the ADL, of course.
I find it extraordinarily odd that FBI Special Agent Sotka continually lied about possessing the original recordings, until he was cross-examined on the witness stand at my trial. You see, we subpoenaed to trial the actual recorder that Larry supposedly used to make the two recordings that were the only evidence against me. Claiming all along that he had provided the originals to both the FBI labs and to my sound experts, Sotka finally acknowledged under oath that he could not produce the actual original recordings.
Here’s the problem with our not being allowed to test the recorder: In the pretrial “Daubert” hearing challenging my (world-class) sound experts, a key point made by the government was that their recorder’s “floor” volume limit and “ceiling” frequency limit accounted for those “electronic signatures.” Sorry, the judge told us, but the recorder is “too secret” to let us verify any of the government’s claims about the limitations of their recorder. How convenient for the government. How tragic for me. Guess my world-class experts just must be dumb.
Agent Sotka did claim to have copied the original recordings to a different format, but he continued to call those copies “originals.” Most people, including my experts, would call those copies simply copies, second generation, at that, but not Agent Sotka. Agent Sotka steadfastly insisted upon calling them “originals.” Oh, my…
Incidentally…The same FBI Agent who told all those lies and made several startling admissions at trial, Michael Sotka, also finally admitted that he had violated several FBI rules of protocol in securing his “recordings” (the same ones that even Sotka claimed never to have heard before he destroyed them):
1. The alleged conversations between Fairfax and me were not simultaneously monitored by the FBI (by radio) as they were being made (and, incidentally, as Sotka at first falsely claimed to have done).
2. There was no second (or more) FBI agent(s) present to observe the proceedings. Just Sotka.
3. There was no visual sighting of the target (me) at any time during either “recording session.”
4. The originals (and first-generation copies) were destroyed by Agent Sotka, never having been heard by anybody.
Tell me, just how obvious does it have to be in order to produce reasonable doubt at trial? Answer: That depends upon your lawyer and the degree of corruption involved (both topics for a future installment I call, “Thrown Under the Bus”).
Juries Love a Man in Uniform
My jury, like virtually all juries, accorded Agent Sotka’s testimony the same weight that all juries give to the testimony of police and other agents of the government: They took it as gospel. Only on TV do juries manage to disbelieve government agents – trust me on this one, because I am a trial lawyer (I know how that sounds, but for once I don’t say it as a joke). Else, how do you explain their verdict after hearing Agent Sotka’s startling admission?
But why would FBI Agent Sotka even participate in, let alone mastermind, a fraud like this?
The FBI has maintained a large task force in Northern Idaho since the days of Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations (both of whom I represented at a very high-profile trial several years ago, don’t forget). That task force has had little to do. How often have you heard about structure fires surreptitiously being set by over-ambitious firemen with too much time on their hands?
Is It Memorex or…?
Why was Sotka so quick to deny to my wife knowing who I was? Why was he so eager, the morning of my arrest, to assure me that the FBI was not out to get me? Is the fear of putting the lie to these two assertions the reason they won’t let us hear that third recording?
After stalling Cyndi for 10 days before allowing her to hear his “original” two recordings, why did Agent Sotka then tell her he couldn’t play the third tape for her because it “wasn’t yet ready?” It wasn’t ready? Excuse me…isn’t this the same tape that one of the FBI agents shook beneath the nose of Dr. Banks shortly after my arrest, saying, “I’ve got everything we need right here?” Not “ready?” After ten days? What, exactly, needed to be done to that tape, such that it “wasn’t ready” ten days later for my wife to hear?
Do you suppose that Agent Sotka hadn’t yet made his “original” from that tape, similar to the two “originals” (second-generation copies, by his own admission at trial) that required ten days before they were “ready” for Cyndi to hear? Was it, too, a “work in progress” at that time, as the other two recordings seem to have been, since they subtly changed each time my wife heard them?
Speak No Evil
It seems likely to me that FBI Agent Sotka was in on the fraud, at a minimum. But the judge refused to let us say so, directly or through witnesses. He also refused to let us tell the jury, directly or through two of the leading forensic audiologists in the world, that the only evidence against me was fabricated. Why? The judge also literally forbade my attorney from eliciting any testimony casting the FBI in a bad light.
Are you beginning to see how it is done? Spare me the blather about how I must be guilty, else how could 12 jurors, good and true, say that I was guilty? Easily. How do you think the feds get that 97% conviction rate of which they are so proud? Fair trial? Not even close, boys and girls. Not even close.
All My Trials
Hope springs eternal. Though wrongly convicted and sitting in a jail cell as I write this, while awaiting that same Federal trial judge to sentence me (to a mandatory minimum 50 years), I (naively?) hope to be granted a new trial on appeal – a trial that will be fair enough ( I have plans for ensuring that ) to enable me to clear my name and walk free, then to spend my declining years in the arms of my beloved Cyndi, just as we first planned, 27 years ago.