Cyndi Steele asks court to drop no-contact order

Husband accused of hiring hit man to kill her

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COEUR d'ALENE - Cyndi Steele is asking a U.S. District Court judge to drop a no-contact order against her husband, prominent attorney Edgar J. Steele - the man accused of hiring his maintenance man to kill her.

A motion was filed on her behalf this week in Coeur d'Alene by her attorney, Wesley W. Hoyt, of Clearwater, Idaho.

She said she needs contact with her husband to deal with "numerous pending professional and family business matters."

She said she has been his part-time legal secretary for 25 years. She said she needs his help handling bills, taxes, investments, student loans for their son and the sale of property.

The no-contact order was put in place in June to prohibit Edgar Steele, 65, from talking to his wife, a potential witness in the murder-for-hire case against him. He has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is set for November.

The motion says that "her perceptions of the facts of this case are unchanged by any outside influences and submits that it is her perceptions that will form her testimony irrespective of any contact with her husband or" the FBI.

Cyndi Steele says in the motion that "it was FBI special agent Mike Sotka who improperly attempted to influence her perception of the facts and thus tampered with her testimony."

Debbie Dujanovic Bertram, an FBI spokesman, declined comment Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Cyndi Steele also said she doesn't agree that her husband planned or intended to harm her or that he was involved in a murder-for-hire plot, according to the motion, filed Monday.

Larry Fairfax, of Sagle, was the alleged hitman in the case. He is charged with putting a pipe bomb under her vehicle.

In the motion, she says Fairfax made up the murder-for-hire story to the FBI to prevent Edgar Steele from complaining about the theft of $45,000 in silver from the Steeles' home in May. She said Fairfax took the coins, the document says.

Federal prosecutors have said they have audio recordings between Edgar Steele and Fairfax in which Steele orders the hit. Federal authorities have said Fairfax switched from Steele's paid hitman to FBI informant and helped agents obtain secret recordings of conversations between him and Edgar Steele in which the murder plot was hatched.

Cyndi Steele has listened to two of those recordings, court documents says.

In the motion, she said she has repeatedly told the FBI that "she did not 'trust' those government tapes."

From the beginning, she says, she "challenged the tapes because (she) could hear on the tapes that there was something odd and amiss with the way her husband's voice was being presented in the recordings."

She said the recordings contain "words and phrases spoken by (her husband) previously in another context, which speeches are readily available on the Internet and which words from those speeches were extracted from these publicly available statements and then re-arranged for recording purposes."

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7 in U.S. District Court here on the motion to vacate the no-contact order.

Edgar Steele currently is being held at Spokane County Jail. His defense attorney, federal public defender Roger Peven, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

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