The Dark Prince

He claimed to be Nepalese royalty, but police say Kaushal Niroula is a con man whose crew of gay grifters may have murdered a wealthy Palm Springs man.

Kaushal Niroula, 26, aka the Nepalese Prince, aka Prince Little Stuff, enters a Palm Springs courtroom and offers to shake the judge's hand. Short and neatly dressed, with attractively dainty features, Niroula is the suspected ringleader of a bizarre murder-larceny case that has riveted this desert Mecca of gay high society since early December. That was when Clifford Lambert, 74, a retired art dealer known for his taste in younger men, vanished without a trace.

On January 7, two men who lived across the street from Lambert's $1 million house on exclusive Camino Norte noticed a moving van pull up. It was carrying five day laborers, who took orders from a handsome San Francisco bartender named Miguel Bustamante, 26. The neighbors called Lambert's attorney, who'd asked them to keep an eye out since the older man's disappearance on December 4. Police soon showed up and arrested Bustamante. Back at the station, he said he'd been paid $30,000 to "clean out" Lambert's house. He spilled the beans about an alleged scheme to fraudulently sell Lambert's house, loot his bank and investment accounts, steal his Mercedes sports car, and truck away his collection of fine art.

Based on Bustamante's information, police issued arrest warrants for a cast of characters drawn from the San Francisco gay social scene, including David Replogle, 60, an attorney known among some colleagues for pushing ethical boundaries; Daniel Garcia, 27, a longtime client of Replogle's; and Russell Manning, 67, a former Union Square art gallery employee.

Niroula got a U.S. student visa and free tuition by persuading a college president he was a wealthy Nepalese royal poised to donate $1 million.
Brett Affrunti
Niroula got a U.S. student visa and free tuition by persuading a college president he was a wealthy Nepalese royal poised to donate $1 million.
After bilking a Peninsula art collector, Niroula cashed $237,000 of the proceeds at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where he checked into a suite.
Brett Affrunti
After bilking a Peninsula art collector, Niroula cashed $237,000 of the proceeds at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where he checked into a suite.
A homeless-looking man dragged a San Francisco notary half a block by his backpack. But he failed to retrieve thumbprints linking Niroula and his lover to the Palm Springs scam.
Brett Affrunti
A homeless-looking man dragged a San Francisco notary half a block by his backpack. But he failed to retrieve thumbprints linking Niroula and his lover to the Palm Springs scam.
Clifford Lambert, missing since December.
Clifford Lambert, missing since December.

Niroula, a spiffy-dressing Nepalese immigrant with a haughty British accent, apparently served as the hub of this alleged gay-grifter crew that drew victims and coconspirators from the Castro bar scene. When Niroula was arraigned on March 11, attorneys, police, victims, and former friends already suspected him to be one of the more prolific and ruthless con men ever to hit California. He is credited with persuading the president of the New College of California that he was Nepalese royalty, poised to donate $1 million to the college. In exchange, he purportedly received scholarships and unearned class credit that allowed him to fraudulently extend his student visa. The resulting scandal ended with the college's closing last year.

Niroula also allegedly posed as a business consultant to con a Japanese tourist out of $508,000, and as an art consultant to pry $485,000 from a Silicon Valley collector. He then allegedly stole $300,000 worth of jewelry that belonged to the mother of a friend to pay for a restitution plea deal. And he then somehow persuaded a Marin County judge and a U.S. immigration judge to set bail low enough to allegedly allow him to make his way to Palm Springs and into the life, and apparent death, of Clifford Lambert.

"He's not a two-bit con man," says San Francisco fraud detective Greg Ovanessian, who investigated Niroula for the art fraud case. "We have lots of cons where the amounts are not that big. Look at the losses with Niroula and the amounts at hand; they're giant. Obviously, he has to support a lifestyle, or some other needs, with lots of infusions of cash. He seems to accomplish that, in one manner or another — allegedly, of course."

"There are too many instances of him getting out and going free to blame it on his charisma or lack of good police work," adds Stephen Shaw, attorney for the Japanese tourist Niroula allegedly ripped off. "I attribute it to the supernatural. He's evil. He's like a vessel. And if people don't treat it like this, he's going to continue doing what he's doing."

When asked for his plea on murder, fraud, and embezzlement charges in Palm Springs, Niroula said, "Absolutely not guilty." His alleged coconspirators Replogle, Garcia, and Bustamante also pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges relating to Lambert's disappearance. As of late March, Manning was being held in jail in Mexico on unrelated charges.


Talking with lawyers, law enforcement, victims, former friends, and acquaintances of Niroula's, I too had become baffled by the young Nepalese immigrant's preternatural-seeming powers of persuasion. Could there really be something otherworldly going on? Is there a strata of San Francisco's gay underground populated by superpredators? I asked Adam Raskin, a San Francisco private investigator who was hired to trail Niroula by one of his alleged victims, whether he had discovered the key.

Raskin, a multilingual sleuth with 18 years' experience and a master's degree in criminality, law, and society, wasn't tempted by my flights of fancy. "Do you know what the Spanish Prisoner is?" he said.

It sounded familiar, but no, I didn't.

"Look it up," Raskin said.

The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence trick from the early 20th century. A con man tells his prospective victim that he represents a wealthy man, possibly royal, who is imprisoned in Spain under a false identity. The con man is raising money for the purported prince's release and offers to let the mark contribute, suggesting he will be rewarded a thousandfold. The victim puts up a small amount, but complications arise, and the con man needs more money. This process continues, perhaps for months or years, until the victim is cleaned out or realizes there's no imprisoned prince in Spain. The emphasis on trust and secrecy, and the come-on attitude, will be familiar to anyone who has received an e-mail from Nigeria – or who has witnessed Niroula at his apparent game.

By Raskin's reckoning, Niroula possessed no magic. He simply adopted an impenetrable persona, found marks with useful vulnerabilities, and practiced a well-worn yet exquisite con.

When he arrived at New College of California in 2002, Niroula seems to have stumbled upon the perfect target.

Martin Hamilton, along with a small group of friends, had for decades managed the 1,000-student school, founded in 1971, by lurching from one financial crisis to the next.


According to ex-students and faculty, Niroula arrived at New College armed with a persona apparently tailored for the college president's needs. Hamilton was entertaining grandiose plans to expand the college internationally, while negotiating an ambitious relocation from its home in a former mortuary on Valencia Street to the historic former San Francisco State College campus near Market Street. But the school was mortgaged within an inch of its life, and Hamilton needed a miracle to keep it afloat, much less realize his ambitions.

According to a preliminary draft of a letter from the school's administration to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), an academic accreditation agency, Niroula "represent[ed] himself to President Hamilton as a wealthy young man who had held a prominent position in the Nepali government as chief of staff for the former foreign minister. In gratitude for the postponement of tuition payment, [Niroula] did indeed promise to make a donation to New College of $1 million when his money was released."

New College students and teachers had informed the agency of an alleged scheme by which Hamilton purportedly gave Niroula scholarships and told teachers to give Niroula class credit and grades he hadn't earned — allegations Hamilton denied.

"Unfortunately, [Niroula] turned out to be a highly intelligent and capable con man," the letter read, which was initialed "MH" in several places. "Even after [Niroula] should have had access to funds, he proved unable to pay his past and present tuition, and he of course never made the promised donation. Sometimes he would function as a student in good standing, participating in class, according to his teachers, and writing intelligent student papers. But then he would disappear, sometimes for months at a time, making fantastic allegations such as that his sister had been captured by Islamic terrorists and her life was in danger, or that his father was in jeopardy and was being hunted down by old remnants of the KGB. Like the lead character in the movie Catch Me If You Can, [Niroula] was capable of spinning a compelling yarn that made extraordinary claims seem like they just could be possible, and he succeeded in hoodwinking some faculty and also President Hamilton to attempt to help him be able to continue and remain in school, in spite of all that was apparently happening to him."

Niroula cut an unusual figure at the leftist New Age school. He dressed nattily, smelled strongly of cologne, and on the few occasions he was seen on campus, seemed to some to prefer the company of college administrators rather than fellow students. New College prided itself in diversity, and as an exotic gay man with aristocratic airs, Niroula complemented the school's progressive self-image.

"When Kaushal came in, Martin was really, really excited about him, and he was really going to save the school," said a former New College administrative employee who didn't want to be named. "He was very arrogant. We called him 'Prince Little Stuff.' He was a very good-looking man, but didn't deign to talk to any of the staff. He acted like what he thought royalty should act like."

After a while, teachers, students, and administrators close to Hamilton suspected Niroula was not who he said he was. Some saw the situation as dangerous, because, by fudging Niroula's records to keep him in good academic standing, the school could potentially help him violate the terms of his student visa and put at risk the school's own accreditation. In the world of U.S. private schools, selling grades for donations is a sure route to losing accreditation and government financial aid.

Niroula's adviser filed a complaint with the accrediting agency, alleging attempts by the administration to change his academic record so that he would be eligible for continued attendance at New College, and thus keep his visa. In August 2007, in response to questions from the publication Inside Higher Ed, Hamilton said, "The allegation that I was giving him a degree in exchange for a million bucks — that is just degrading to my soul. I've worked to support this place for 30 years."

After investigations by WASC and the U.S. Department of Education, New College of California closed last spring.


With his technique established, Niroula went on what some say was a West Coast confidence-game spree. In July 2006, he traveled to Waikiki, where he introduced himself to a early-middle-aged Japanese tourist named Megumi Hisamatsu, who was vacationing in a short-term condominium. Niroula told her he was staying in the condo next door, and that he headed an international consulting company, according to a lawsuit Hisamatsu filed against him in San Francisco federal court. Niroula said he was wealthy, and that his mother was a Nepalese diplomat. He told Hisamatsu that he was a friend of the Nepalese royal family, and wondered whether she might be interested in real-estate investments in Hawaii. Niroula purportedly claimed that he had helped many clients invest in businesses and real estate in the United States, and that he had contacts in San Francisco who might help her obtain a business or investment visa.

Niroula persuaded Hisamatsu to set up U.S. bank accounts containing more than $500,000, according to the lawsuit. By using pages of a checkbook he'd taken from her, he was able to empty the accounts. When she began to get wise, Niroula repeated a version of the story he'd begun telling at New College, claiming he'd used the money to rescue members of the Nepalese royal family who were in great danger because of turmoil in their country. If Hisamatsu gave him even more money, Niroula allegedly said, he'd be able to rescue them, and return all of her money.

"He sprinkles in stories of the Nepalese royal family, Islamic terrorists, the British intelligence service MI6," says Ovanessian, whose investigation of Niroula has made his SFPD desk a sort of clearinghouse for Niroula's various alleged frauds. "Whether he believes the stories he tells, I can't say, because I'm not his clinician. But that's what makes it interesting."

Hisamatsu's attorney, Stephen Shaw, shared with me a tape recording of a phone call she made of Niroula's pleading with her for more money — after he'd already taken her for $508,000. He sounded neither charming nor artful, but rather needy and desperate. He was elusive about even the most basic facts, such as where he was staying, or where he would be the next day.

But with his banal entreaties comes a compelling story line. After acknowledging that he'd stolen from Hisamatsu, Niroula explained that the only way she could get her $500,000 back was by giving him $20,000. When she balked, he lowered the amount needed to $2,900.

"No, no, you don't need an account number," he said on the tape.

"But I checked with the bank," Hisamatsu said.

"No, no, no, no. There's a Western Union in Osaka," he said.

"That's far away from here," she said.

"No, no, no. You can do it over the tele-phone," he said.

As the conversation continued, Niroula pivoted. "Sometimes I have a bad side. Sometimes I have a good side. Sometimes I do evil things," he said. "But you are someone who changed my life. You are my Buddha."

"Then do the right thing," Hisamatsu said.

"I will do the right thing," he said. "If you tell me to die, I will die. If you tell me to lie down, I will lie down."

So far, Hisamatsu has not obtained any of the money Niroula allegedly stole.

When contacted by SF Weekly, Mark Sullivan, Niroula's attorney for the Palm Springs murder cases, said he and his client had no comment.

According to charges filed in San Francisco last year, after returning from Hawaii, Niroula hooked up with art consultant Russell Manning, who had worked as a sales representative at two Union Square art galleries and had since set out on his own. One of Manning's prized clients during his Union Square days was Gary Heidenreich, a Peninsula technology executive who collected the works of French surrealist painter Yves Tanguy. According to Ovanessian, Manning told Heidenreich that he had an original Tanguy available for $990,000; it was being sold by the British Crown, because the painting was supposedly a gift from the Nazis. Niroula, posing as a broker, needed a $400,000 down payment as a display of good faith. Sensing what he thought was a unique opportunity, Heidenreich wired the money to Manning, who put it in Niroula's account.

Niroula "cashed a check for $237,000 at a casino immediately after getting the money and spent five or six days at the Bellagio, living the life of Riley," Ovanessian says. "He was in a suite, and he ate well, and drank well."

The Tanguy in question, it turned out, was not really on the market. "It hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland," Ovanessian says. "It was never owned by the Nazis; it was never for sale."

Niroula was arrested not long afterward; Ovanessian went to pick him up. "He extends his hand to shake mine," the detective recalls. "He said he was meaning to call me. I said, 'Then you should have called. We're going to San Francisco now.' He's very flamboyant. He's very gregarious. He's a character."

San Francisco attorney David Replogle, described by Palm Springs police as Niroula's boyfriend, bailed the alleged con man out of jail last summer, Ovanessian said. Niroula said he had the money to pay full restitution to Heidenreich, in exchange for a negotiated plea.

For that money, Niroula apparently went to Marin County, where he befriended a flamboyant middle-aged gay man named Stephen Valentino, who'd dabbled in magazine and video production while living with his 78-year-old mother, Ina Mae.

According to charges in Marin County, Niroula allegedly stole $300,000 worth of jewelry belonging to Valentino's mother. Given Niroula's history, the district attorney asked for $2 million bail. At Niroula's request, the judge knocked it down to $150,000.

Around the same time, Niroula was facing deportation because he was no longer a student and had been accused of criminal conduct. After hearing Niroula's pleas in a special hearing, an immigration judge set bail at $50,000. It wasn't long before Niroula was back on the street again.


Once out on bail, Niroula made his way to Palm Springs, home of Clifford Lambert, who Niroula's sometime boyfriend, Danny Garcia, had hooked up with. Lambert, a once-prominent Los Angeles art dealer, was the reputed confidant of Palm Springs society divas. He was known for throwing extravagant Christmas and Easter parties at his home, and for flirting with younger men while out on the town.

Palm Springs police believe Niroula, Replogle, Bustamante, and Garcia conspired to fleece Lambert. Niroula's relationship with Garcia is difficult to parse from talking to either young man's friends. Though they spent conspicuous amounts of time together, they seemed to spend more time accusing each other of cons they had pulled than sharing warm words.

Garcia told his friend Tyson Wrensch, a Las Vegas slot-machine-industry executive, that Niroula had contacted him after Replogle had negotiated a $1.5 million settlement for Garcia from Thomas White, a San Francisco stockbroker who Garcia claimed had sexually abused him.

(The Lambert case bears odd similarities to a 2003 lawsuit, detailed in the March 18 SF Weekly story "The Thomas White Affair," in which Replogle extracted a $7 million settlement from White by alleging he had abused Garcia and several Mexican youths. White's attorneys now say the Palm Springs case bolsters their claim that Replogle obtained the settlement through fraud.)

In early 2007, Wrensch found that Garcia, a close friend of several years, had stolen his identity and emptied thousands of dollars from his bank accounts. Garcia attempted to blame Niroula, whom Wrensch knew from nights on the town, during which both men would spend lavishly on entertainment.

Wrensch provided SF Weekly with an electronic copy of an instant message conversation between himself and Niroula in which they discussed Garcia's attempt to blame the Nepalese man for the theft.

Niroula struck a different pose from his usual bon vivant sophisticate. He came off as a well-connected, dangerous man who shouldn't be trifled with.

"U are not going to rat out on me are u?" Niroula purportedly asked Wrench. "Tyson can I trust u or no?"

"You weren't in the house?" Wrensch replied.

"If you rat out on me, I will chop you off," Niroula wrote. "I was never in Las Vegas."

Niroula went on to insist he was innocent and ignorant of his friend Garcia's deeds. "But I can fairly guess," he added.

"I'm listening," Wrensch wrote.

"BUT U NEED TO NOT RAT OUT ON ME I THINK DANNY NEEDS HELP," Niroula purportedly responded.

Niroula then said he learned about the theft through connections: "Yes, I had my Russians look into it."

"Someone has apparently called my bank impersonating me on my brokerage account," Wrensch wrote.

"And the IP address was in Utah?" Niroula asked.

"Yup, that's them," Wrensch confirmed.

"If I tell my people, they will kill them," Niroula bragged. "I don't wanna take the blame for a dead body. ... I like the kid. I mean I have met his parents and his dad and mom. ... It's kinda weird."

According to Palm Springs police, Niroula and Garcia were more than occasionally hostile acquaintances: They were lovers. The intimate nature of their relationship may be useful for attempting to comprehend the Palm Springs case, which promises to become a complex tangle of finger-pointing among alleged accomplices. Garcia and Niroula have repeatedly posed as enemies to swindle their victims, while nonetheless keeping each other's intimate company.

Following Niroula's alleged Marin County jewelry theft, Garcia befriended Valentino, saying he would testify for the prosecution. And when Garcia allegedly cheated a San Francisco limousine company of $20,000 in 2007, Niroula called the company, saying his friend was at fault and a scoundrel.

In hindsight, some of these people believe the supposed animosity between the two men was a pose. According to one of Garcia's limousine drivers, who during 2007 routinely took Niroula and Garcia out together for big-spending nights on the town, the two shared energetic, flirty banter, talking endlessly of a supposed con they were planning in which they would somehow spring alleged sex tourist White from a Mexican jail.

Niroula was "passing himself off as a Nepalese prince," the driver recalls. "They were very flirty, very touchy. They were just very affectionate with each other. Sometimes they would just talk in their own code."

He says that Niroula and Garcia would tip with $100 bills, take a dozen people out to a bar, then buy drinks for the night. They spoke in hushed tones about the "very confidential" plans they were making.

"They would get it on in the backseat of our car," said the limo driver, who asked not to be named. "They would give each other pleasure, so to speak. They used to stay at the W Hotel in San Francisco. Even though they were like boyfriends, or what have you, they would go against each other all the time. Kaushal would call me, saying, 'Don't talk to Danny.' I would say, 'Why are you calling me?'"


Mark Evans, a Saratoga real estate salesman, befriended Niroula a year or so ago, "to be something of a positive influence in his life. Not somebody we'd have something in common with, or go to a movie together. We really saw him as someone who needed some help." Evans says that Niroula's endless stream of preposterous stories added to the impression of a lost boy in need of help.

Niroula would occasionally stay with Evans and his wife, one time bringing over his friend, Bustamante, the Castro barkeep who is alleged to have been hired by Niroula to empty Lambert's house.

"Kaushal [told] me that Bustamante was connected with a Colombian drug cartel, and that he was here to invest money in the United States, and that he wanted to buy land in the United States, and that he wanted me to get the commissions," Evans recalls. "What they were talking about didn't make sense. I thought, if he was involved in a drug cartel, he sure wouldn't tell me."

About six months ago, Evans said Garcia called him, badmouthing Niroula, "how he was a big phony, and how he caused the president at a private college to lose his job, and the college to lose its accreditation. ... He had a lot of bad things to say about Kaushal, his habits, his relationships, and the people he was ripping off."

Evans said Garcia also discussed his own friendship with Lambert. "He said Kaushal didn't know Lambert, but that [Garcia] knew Lambert quite well," Evans recalls.

The last time Evans heard from Niroula was in January, when police say he, Replogle, Garcia, and Manning were seeking to liquidate Lambert's assets. "He talked with me about a property in Palm Springs, where he was going to get a settlement," Evans says. "He was going to get it gone, get the money out as fast as he can."

Niroula's own explanation of his relationship with Lambert was sketchy and convoluted — in keeping with Evans' perception of all his friend's stories. He said "he was involved in a sort of sex thing. He ended up getting AIDS," Evans says. "So he settled with Lambert. He [also] told another story — he said Lambert was involved in some sort of art theft. Kaushal and Lambert were out for dinner, and some sort of art was stolen," Lambert "was thanking him for participating, or for not ratting him out, or something. Niroula starts down one path, and when things don't make sense, he buys time so he can come up with something else."

Niroula asked Evans to list a house at 317 Camino Norte in Palm Springs, after Niroula, with Replogle's help, had gained power of attorney over Lambert's assets. Evans thought there was something fishy going on. He searched online for Lambert's name , and found news stories reporting his disappearance. Evans ordered a copy of the latest deed executed by Lambert. "The signatures didn't match," he said. "Clearly the power of attorney ... did not appear to be executed by the person who signed the last deed on the property." Evans called the police.

For Palm Springs detective Frank Browning, the attempted house sale was the puzzle piece he'd been waiting for. "This is a very, very complicated case," he says. "Our detectives are working night and day on this." Browning and his fellow detectives are accustomed to what they quaintly term "alternative-lifestyle" cases. But the disappearance of Clifford Lambert was unlike any they'd seen before.


December 2008 was a particularly vulnerable time for Clifford Lambert.He had spent 2007 going through a nasty legal separation from his partner of 10 years, Travis Hobbs, who had legally changed his name to Travis Lambert in 1997. Travis had requested a restraining order against Clifford. Neighbors had complained of disturbances. And in November 2007, Travis drowned in a swimming pool.

By the fall of 2008, Lambert "was just a lonely person in need of love," a friend says.How, exactly, Lambert got mixed up with the five men who are now charged with his murder remains unclear. Niroula's attorney is not commenting. Replogle's attorney didn't return a call requesting comment.

What we have for the time being are allegations from the Riverside County district attorney that Garcia, Niroula, Replogle, Bustamante, and Manning contrived to kill Lambert and liquidate his assets.

Neither police, nor the district attorney's office, have reported finding a body, and refused to say what specific evidence they have to charge the men with murder. However, an Associated Press story reported that traces of blood were found in Lambert's kitchen, and the Desert Sun wrote that authorities believe the murder happened "during a burglary."

What we do know is that Niroula and Replogle seem to have engaged in a frenetic effort to steal Lambert's possessions during the weeks following his disappearance.

The case's madcap quality suggests that Niroula may not be a powerful supernatural creature, or even a charming genius, but rather an artless yet lucky con man who finally tripped up in Palm Springs. After Lambert disappeared, Niroula allegedly emptied more than $200,000 from his bank account, and attempted to sell Lambert's house to someone named Jay C. Shah for $298,000, less than a third of its estimated value. The suspects also allegedly stole Lambert's Mercedes CLK320 sports car, police said.

After Niroula and Replogle forged documents to grant Lambert's power of attorney to Niroula and had them notarized, the men apparently realized too late that their fingerprints were on the documents, providing an immutable connection for police.

According to two notaries working for the mobile notary company used by Niroula and Replogle, the suspects then apparently hatched a scheme to seize the book containing their signatures and thumbprints.

One notary received a call to notarize a signature at a San Francisco address, but nobody showed. He was called again that afternoon, and recalls seeing two men in a parked Mercedes sports car near the address. "I remember the car because I was trying not to hit it when I parked," he said.

When the notary stepped onto the sidewalk, a man "who looked like he was homeless" grabbed his backpack and dragged him a full block before letting go and fleeing. The notary now believes the mugger might have been hired by the two men in the car. "They wanted that book," he said.

The fingerprint, along with Bustamante's confession and Evans' tip, allowed police to compile a case that now forms the basis for capital murder charges against Niroula and his alleged team.

Garcia's attorney, Mario Rodriguez, acknowledges that his client and Lambert were sometime lovers. But he says Garcia has distanced himself from Niroula in this case. Garcia did not introduce Niroula to Lambert, and he insists he had no involvement in Lambert's disappearance or the theft of the older man's property. "It's probably no secret, but there's a certain scene here in Palm Springs," Rodriguez explains. "This case has sexual, alternative-lifestyle overtones, and, uh, that's how they met, given the social scene in Palm Springs. Actually, they met in Hollywood at a social function there a number of years ago, and they became friends after that."

Rodriguez offers this bit of information by way of explaining why police had reported that, following Lambert's disappearance, Garcia used Lambert's bank card to make 21 withdrawals and purchases totaling more than $13,000, and why Bustamante had fingered Garcia as among the group allegedly involved in Lambert's disappearance.

After their Hollywood hookup, Lambert opened his heart and bank account to Garcia, Rodriguez said: "They were very good friends, and Mr. Lambert was a generous person. And he liked to shower his friends with gifts."

Garcia's history of allegations that he stole money by using other people's bank cards challenges the plausibility of his claim that Lambert supposedly approved the multiple withdrawals. How, or whether, the Nepalese purported con man pulled off this latest gambit, and how much help he got from his sometime boyfriend, will become clearer when the five men are put on trial.

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, a former death penalty prosecutor, has charged all five suspects with murder committed in conjunction with other crimes, meaning that if convicted they may receive life in prison, or the death penalty. "These con men have skillfully manipulated their way through millions of illegally obtained dollars and have managed to avoid the consequences until now," he says. "Unfortunately, Cliff Lambert isn't the first victim of their ongoing scams to enrich themselves, but we plan on making sure he is the last."

According to Browning, once Niroula and Replogle were arrested, the Nepalese Prince seemed determined to attempt his magic one more time. "They were both very arrogant in San Francisco," the detective recalls. "Right off the bat, during the first few minutes of the interview, they said they want to speak directly to the district attorney to make a deal. But there are no deals being made."

E-mail the writer to discuss the story: Matt.Smith@SFWeekly.com.

"He's evil," attorney Stephen Shaw says of Niroula. "And if people don't treat it like this, he's going to continue doing what he's doing."

"Like the lead character in the movie Catch Me If You Can, Niroula was capable of spinning a compelling yarn that made extraordinary claims seem like they just could be possible."

"These con men have skillfully manipulated their way through millions of illegally obtained dollars and have managed to avoid the consequences until now." — Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco

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2 comments
superhumanchichi
superhumanchichi

The lawyer who blames it on the supernatural...man I'm sure his client didn't get a penny back. There's nothing supernatural about this. Use logic and you will see the simple facts: Niroula is a persuasive con man and the police were too laid back. End of story.

 
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