COEUR d’ALENE — Sagle resident Larry Fairfax was sentenced on Wednesday to 27 months in prison with credit for time served for his role in the plot to kill Cyndi Steele last summer.
Fairfax, 50, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who also fined Fairfax $10,000.
That’s the amount of money Fairfax accepted from Cyndi Steele’s husband, Edgar J. Steele, to carry out her murder by bombing her vehicle or running her off the road while she was visiting her mother near Portland. He also will have to pay $900 in restitution to Cyndi Steele, and nearly that amount to a Coeur d’Alene oil-change station.
Fairfax has been jailed since June 15, 2010, when the pipe bomb he manufactured was discovered under Cyndi Steele’s SUV at Fast Lane Quick Lube near the intersection of Bosanko Avenue and U.S. 95. The discovery of the massive bomb forced the highway to be shutdown.
It wasn’t until the bomb was accidentally discovered that Fairfax admitted attaching it to her vehicle, even though he had been cooperating as an informant for the FBI. Fairfax agreed to carry a hidden recording device in two meetings with Edgar Steele, when the two men discussed the murder plot.
Edgar Steele, 65, also of Sagle, was found guilty last week in federal court in Boise of hiring Fairfax to kill his wife. The June 9 and 10 audio recordings were key evidence in Steele’s nearly two-week trial.
He is to be sentenced in August.
In October, Fairfax pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm and making a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act.
Before being sentenced, Fairfax, speaking of Cyndi Steele, said, “I understand her whole world is coming apart.”
He said his actions were reckless and risked the lives and well-being of many people; but he never intended to hurt anybody, though the bomb was lethal and loaded with explosive powder.
Winmill said sentencing Fairfax was difficult because Fairfax’s intentions are not clear.
Fairfax, who has struggled financially, said he just wanted to get money from Steele. He said he accepted $10,000 in silver, but never intended to follow through on the hit. He planned to find some way to work the money off and string Steele along, but the situation spun out of control.
The judge called Fairfax both a hero and anti-hero, for going to the FBI about the murder plot, but not mentioning the bomb.
John Miller, Fairfax’s defense attorney, said, “I don’t think this person deserves another day in jail.”
Miller recommended to the judge that Fairfax be allowed to go back to work and take care of his family.
He said federal authorities would have known nothing at all of the plot if it wasn’t for his client.
“This man saved her life,” Miller said.
He estimated his client’s actions saved possibly a dozen people from harm.
And Miller said the time Fairfax has served in jail “was good for coming to grips with what he has done.”
Cyndi Steele, who called Fairfax “Larry the pipe bomber,” told the court, “A hero does not attempt to murder anyone.”
She asked Fairfax why, if he didn’t intend murder, he used explosive powder instead of sand in the pipe bomb? And why fill the steel pipe three-quarters full, leaving some space for air, to enhance the explosion?, she asked.
“You wanted me dead,” Cyndi Steele answered, adding that he didn’t care who else got injured or killed in the process.
“What you are is the most evil person that I have ever had the misfortune of knowing,” she told Fairfax. “You are a coward, a liar, a deceiver, a thief, (and) a would-be-murderer.”
She said his intentions were clear: “Silence my husband and destroy my family with your lies.”
She believes her husband is innocent and that Fairfax was acting alone in the murder plot to cover up stolen silver from her family. She believes he should be charged with attempted murder.
“Yes, Larry Fairfax, anyone who looks at this situation knows that you are getting a sweetheart plea deal, despite the fact that you are such a low-life and the one who perpetrated these crimes,” she said.
She told Fairfax to enjoy his “journey down to Hell with all of your accomplices, for all of you are Satan’s whelp and he waits to receive you because you seek to destroy the innocent.”