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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

David Replogle, S.F. Attorney, Gets Life in Prison for Role in Palm Springs Murder

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Life with no parole for ex- S.F. attorney
  • Life with no parole for ex- S.F. attorney

David Replogle, who was heralded in a mid-2000s series of San Francisco Chronicle stories as an international crusader fighting sexual abuse, will spend the rest of his life in prison without possibility of parole for his role in the 2008 disappearance of a Palm Springs retiree.

Replogle was convicted earlier this year on eight felony counts related to a scheme where a group of purported San Francisco con men robbed and killed Clifford Lambert. His body has not been found, but is believed to have been buried in the desert.

In 2003, Replogle, along with his young client, Danny Garcia, were the subjects of the stories involving a lawsuit against San Francisco financier Thomas White. Garcia claimed that White had sexually abused him while he was a minor.

"I want to see justice for the children of Puerto Vallarta," Replogle was quoted as saying. "I am a gay man, which makes what Tom White has done doubly offensive to me. This is not just a variation on being gay. It's wrong -- ethically, morally, legally, every way."

After that case was settled for $10 million, Garcia said in a legal filing that Replogle had recruited plaintiffs in the case by promising Puerto Vallarta street children a windfall if they would claim to have met and had sex with White.

Now Garcia, as well as Replogle's reputed boyfriend, Kaushal Niroula, are awaiting trial on charges that they led a conspiracy to murder Lambert and fraudulently sell his house. According to Palm Springs news accounts, Niroula and Garcia, who are acting as their own attorneys confronting murder conspiracy charges, sat in handcuffs during Replogle's sentencing hearing last Friday. Also sentenced Friday to life in prison in connection with the case was Miguel Bustamante, who allegedly stabbed Lambert in the back.

According to trial testimony by Palm Springs police, Niroula, Garcia, and Replogle had agreed upon a plan to kidnap Lambert, steal his identity, empty his bank accounts, and obtain power of attorney to sell his house. The group allegedly plotted to stab Lambert to death when they realized that he might later contest phony documents prepared by Replogle.

Despite the hero's treatment he received seven years ago in the Chronicle, Replogle's reputation has suffered in parts of the San Francisco legal community.

In a March 2009 article "The Thomas White Affair," I quoted Richard Zitrin, director of the Center for Applied Legal Ethics at the University of San Francisco, as saying, "He's a piece of shit, in my opinion. ... My field is legal ethics, so I see rotten lawyers all the time. He is pretty much down at the very, very bottom."

On Tuesday I phoned Zitrin, who has been following the case with great interest. "Nothing about what's happened since has caused me to change my opinion from when I first talked with you," he says.

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Matt Smith


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