A local henchman of alleged murderer and con man Kaushal Niroula has pleaded guilty to robbery, attempted murder, and other charges in connection with the Dec. 2008 disappearance of retired Palm Springs art dealer Cliff Lambert, The Desert Sun reports.
Craig McCarthy of Daly City was allegedly hired by Niroula to murder Lambert as part of an elaborate scheme to fraudulently sell the retiree's house and possessions. A Palm Springs detective had testified that a living Lambert might have become wise to the scheme -- which necessitated his elimination.
In a plea deal, McCarthy, an ex-marine and San Francisco bartender,
admitted to charges of carjacking, burglary, assault with a deadly
weapon, grand theft, accessory to murder after the fact, attempted
murder and conspiracy to commit identity theft, the Sun
A judge has sealed the terms of the deal. McCarthy is scheduled to be sentenced
Jan. 21, when charges that could have led to life imprisonment are
expected to be dropped.
Still facing charges in connection with what prosecutors are calling Lambert's murder are former San Francisco college student Niroula, 28; his reputed ex-boyfriend David Replogle, 61; his other reputed ex-boyfriend Daniel Garcia, 28; and Miguel Bustamante, 27.
reports that McCarthy is expected to testify against his co-defendants.
Lambert, 74, was reported missing Dec. 7 of '08 after a friend failed to reach him. On Jan. 5, 2009 his Palm Springs home was fraudulently sold for less than $300,000, according to police accounts and real estate records. Lambert's house was also looted of artwork and other valuables, police said.
A court subsequently halted the home's sale, police said. The Palm Springs case bears similarities to a San Francisco case in which Niroula, along with a real estate investor who took part in the sale of Lambert's home, allegedly conspired to take out $2 million in fraudulent home equity loans on Rincon Hill condominiums they only pretended to have ownership interest in.
Indeed, facts surrounding Lambert's disappearance suggest that law enforcement in San Francisco, Marin County, Las Vegas, Indiana, Hawaii, and possibly elsewhere missed repeated opportunities to apprehend members of what Palm Springs police now allege are a group of dangerous repeat criminals. Niroula first gained notoriety in 2007, when SF Weekly reported on allegations that he had told the president of New College of California that he was a Nepalese prince
, promising a large donation in exchange for course credit he hadn't earned. Niroula and former New College president Martin Hamilton denied the allegations, which eventually led to the college losing its accreditation, and subsequently closing.
Niroula was not criminally charged in connection with the New College allegations.
Madcap details in these various cases suggested that a group of longtime, artless, yet lucky con men may have finally met their due in Palm Springs.
Niroula, and his ex-boyfriend Garcia are each representing themselves in court. With a henchmen apparently willing to testify against them, they may have to conjure skills beyond those garnered during their careers as apparently lucky con men.
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