Howard Kieffer, an imposter attorney who ran a national listserve on prison issues, has been sentenced to a 51-month prison term and ordered to pay $152,750 in restitution to bilked federal defendants he bilked across the U.S., reports the Denver Post. Kieffer, 54, was sentenced in Bismarck, N.D. Federal prosecutors charged Kieffer with mail fraud and making false statements as he applied for admission as an attorney in North Dakota. A Denver Post investigation found that Kieffer represented at least 16 clients in 10 federal jurisdictions, mostly on post-conviction motions.
Kieffer told a client he was licensed to practice law, and he pretended to have a firm, Federal Defense Associates, with offices in Santa Ana, Ca., and Duluth, Mn. He said he was a graduate of the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., but he never went to college. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, he spent four years in federal prison for filing false tax returns. He took advantage of an attorney-admission system that does not require court clerks to verify that attorneys are licensed by the bar in the state where they claim to practice. A committee of the U.S. Administrative Office of the Courts has recommended that the admission process be changed so that attorneys are verified before they are granted admission to practice in a jurisdiction.