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PASSINGS: Edgar Steele, H. Walter Croskey

PASSINGS: Edgar Steele, H. Walter Croskey
Edgar Steele represented Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler in a lawsuit that bankrupted the supremacist group. (Associated Press)

 Edgar Steele

Attorney for Aryan Nations leader convicted in murder plot

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Edgar Steele, 69, who once represented Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler in a lawsuit that bankrupted the white supremacist group, died Thursday at the federal prison in Victorville, where he was serving a 50-year sentence for plotting to kill his wife.

Steele's death was listed on the prison website. No other details were immediately available.

The self-described "attorney of the damned" gained notoriety defending Butler in a 2000 lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of a Native American woman and her son who were attacked by Aryan Nations guards outside the group's north Idaho compound.

Steele lost the case, which led to a $6.3-million jury award that bankrupted the group and shut down the compound, but became a popular speaker at anti-government and other extremist events, including a gathering of Holocaust deniers in 2004.

He graduated from UCLA's Law School in 1982. He had previously worked as an accountant in San Francisco. In 1985, he married Cindi Kunzman. She filed for divorce in 2000 but later remarried Steele.

In 2011, a Boise jury found him guilty of four felonies for paying his handyman $10,000 in silver to kill his wife and mother-in-law with a car bomb. Prosecutors said he planned the murders so he could collect on an uninsured motorist insurance policy and pursue a relationship with a Ukrainian woman he met online.

Cindi Steele accused the government of fabricating evidence and said her husband was innocent.

Judge H. Walter Croskey

Associate justice on 2nd District Court of Appeal

Judge H. Walter Croskey, 81, an associate justice with the 2nd District Court of Appeal who was known as an authority on California insurance law, died Aug. 29 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications of pneumonia and aplastic anemia. The court announced his death.

After 23 years as a civil trial attorney, Croskey was appointed to Los Angeles Superior Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1985. Two years later, Deukmejian elevated Croskey to the appellate bench.

Henry Walter Croskey was born Aug. 2, 1933, in Santa Monica. As a child he was enthralled by the radio program "Mr. District Attorney," he told the Daily Journal in 2004, and decided to pursue a legal career. He attended USC, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement and public administration in 1955 and a law degree in 1958.

He served in the Navy from 1959 to 1962 as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Among the honors Croskey received during his career was the 1998 Jurist of the Year Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.

--Times staff reports

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