A Palm Springs jury today weighs evidence against a downtown San Francisco attorney and his alleged henchman, after a prosecutor entered closing arguments claiming lawyer David Replogle and Miguel Bustamante helped murder retiree Clifford Lambert and loot his assets.
Highlights of Monday's final arguments and rebuttals included an explanation to jurors by Riverside County assistant DA Lisa DiMaria that, just because Replogle was an attorney with an office in downtown San Francisco, doesn't mean he's unlikely to have participated in a morally repugnant financial crime.
According to a source in the audience at Monday's proceedings, Replogle's attorney had attempted to impress the jury with the idea he was he upstanding citizen. Exhibit 1-A: the former 550 Montgomery Street address of the now-dormant Replogle Law Firm.
Funny, we thought FiDi white-shoe lawyer experience was considered a perfect background for morally repugnant financial activities.
As reported previously in this space, According to Riverside County detectives and prosecutors, on Dec. 5, 2008 a group of San Francisco conspirators, including Replogle and Bustamante, purportedly orchestrated the stabbing of 74-year-old Lambert, whose body has never been recovered.
The so-called "gay grifters" subsequently attempted a fraudulent sale of Lambert's Palm Springs house.
Prosecutors have been aided by the 2009 confession of purported knife man Craig McCarthy, who pleaded guilty last month to charges of robbery and accessory to murder. According to a detective's account of McCarthy's confession, McCarthy and accomplice Bustamante held and stabbed Lambert in the victim's Palm Springs home.
Replogle is alleged to have aided in arranging the deed, and helping falsify documents in order to profit from the dead man's assets. Replogle's defense has said he was only serving in a legitimate role of an attorney representing clients, and was not involved in any fraud.
Readers may recall this convoluted set of affairs is also tied to accused serial con man -- and now accused murderer -- Kaushal Niroula.
According to the Desert Sun
Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria delivered her rebuttal to the Friday closing argument by Replogle's attorney, John Patrick Dolan.
DiMaria told the panel that Dolan had tried to mislead the panel in his summation, when he characterized his client as an empathetic man who was generous to a fault, not a mastermind of a greedy scheme as the prosecutor painted him.
If convicted, Bustamante, a former Castro District bartender, and Replogle -- a Montgomery Street lawyer -- would face life prison terms without possibility of parole.
Several other men also face trial in what DiMaria told jurors was a "massive conspiracy" to loot Lambert of his worldly goods, and to "erase" him so he could not go to the police. He is believed to have been buried in the desert, but his body has not been found.