We’ve all fantasized about living more glamorous, impressive lives. In fact, the odd white lie at a cocktail party about how much we earn, or who we happened to have been sitting next to at a restaurant last week often goes unnoticed.
But what about those more serious lies? Like saying you’re a federal defense lawyer when you’re not. Well, welcome to the life of Howard Kieffer.
The Californian born man had spent years traveling the U.S. pretending to be a lawyer earning over $92,000 while he represented over 16 people in separate federal court hearings before he was found out to be a fake.
While its true that Kieffer did study law for a short period of time, he was never awarded his degree, nor was he ever admitted to the bar.
Kieffer’s lies all came undone when he began working on a famous case—that of a Colorado woman Gwen Bergman who was accused of hiring a hitman to kill her husband. Understandably, the story hit headlines and both the defendant and her representation were thrust into the lime-light.
When the Denver Post covered the story, the lengthly report they published outlined Kieffer’s colorful history as a federal defense lawyer and ultimately caught the attention of Denver law enforcements.
Soon after this, an investigation began Kieffer it not only uncovered his habit of pretending to be a lawyer, but a past of other fraudulent behavior including the fact that he once served four years for filing false tax returns.
What’s more, by the time that the investigation came to a close in 2009 and Kieffer was taken to trial, he was already in prison in North Dakota serving 51 months for a similar case.
The investigation and case against Kieffer resulted in a sentencing of an additional 57 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello, making his total prison term 9 years long.Kieffer was found guilty on one count of wire fraud, one count of making false statements, and one count of contempt for court.
Last year, when Kieffer was released from prison, he was placed on a supervised release that would last five years. However, those five years were short lived as Kieffer was soon sent back to prison for an additional 2 year sentence.
Why? Well as the ABA Journal uncovered in a statement from his probation officer in a warrantor his arrest, it seemed that there was “evidence to suggest [Kieffer}… has continued to represent himself as a lawyer, or a former lawyer, both of which are false.”
Soon Keiffer will have spent a total of 11 years in prison for his obsession with pretending to be a lawyer. Meanwhile, his former ‘client’, Gwen Bergman, whose case initially brought him himb into the spot light here in Denver may be afforded a new trial in the coming years in which she will have real legal representation.