Missouri man admits to faking legal career

Friday, November 13, 2009 | 12:10 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — During a brief and entirely bogus law career, former Missouri inmate Jeffrey Tedrick stole more than $22,000 from several "clients" and spoiled the appeals of a convicted killer, he admitted in court Thursday.

Tedrick, 46, also was accused of talking a parole board into delaying a critic's release from prison for six months.

He had told fellow prisoners that he was a disbarred corporate lawyer from the Longhorn Steakhouse chain who had been convicted in a gambling case and would regain his license upon release.

In reality, Tedrick was a convicted swindler who never held a law license and did no legal work.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Schelp said the closest Tedrick got to Longhorn might have been washing dishes. The restaurant chain said Tedrick never worked there.

Tedrick pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge and admitted stealing $22,690 from seven people.

Dave McCall said he lost at least $15,000 and six months of his life.

"I'm fully gray-haired from this (expletive)," McCall said in a phone conversation this week from the Boonville Correctional Center, where he is serving a term for a credit card-related crime.

McCall said he met Tedrick in prison, believed his story and introduced him to other inmates.

He said Tedrick took $15,000 that was supposed to go toward the purchase of a mobile home. Tedrick also was supposed to take McCall's pickup for safekeeping. Instead, he put the truck in his own name, took out a $2,000 title loan and put 9,000 miles on the odometer, McCall said.

Once McCall discovered the truth, he said, the men exchanged angry phone calls and letters. He said Tedrick used those to spike McCall's chances in front of the parole board, earning him an extra six months behind bars. He is now due to be released next month.

A spokeswoman said the Department of Corrections could not comment on the parole-related allegation. Federal investigators confirmed that McCall had made the same accusation to them.

In court, Tedrick admitted taking the $15,000 and also acknowledged pretending to represent a convicted murderer in appeals never pursued.

Michael G. Belfield, who is serving life without parole for first-degree murder in a 2006 Franklin County case, said he met Tedrick through McCall. Belfield told a reporter in a phone call from prison Thursday that his relatives paid thousands of dollars to Tedrick.

Belfield complained that Tedrick missed two crucial deadlines for appeals, leaving him with few options.

Indeed, Washington University law professor Peter Joy said the state appeals deadline is inflexible, so, "I'd have to say the person would be stuck with what happened."

Tedrick also represented Belfield's sister, Janet Faulkner, in a divorce, or said he would.

In a phone interview Thursday, Faulkner said that Belfield told her not to show up for her court date, claiming he had postponed the hearing. He hadn't, and Faulkner said she lost everything.

She said relatives want to hire another lawyer to aid Belfield. "We're trying to help, but it's kind of hard when you've gone and spent your money on the wrong people," she said.

One of Belfield's former defense lawyers, Terence Niehoff, and Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks said they are unaware of any unresolved issues in Belfield's case — or fertile grounds for an appeal.

Tedrick's lawyer, Andrew Sottile, declined comment after Thursday's plea hearing.

Tedrick, of Oakville, has been in jail since he skipped a court hearing and U.S. marshals kicked in his door to get him.

Under federal guidelines, he could face roughly one to two years in prison when he is sentenced in February.

Tedrick has spent time in Missouri prisons since 1998 on various charges, including writing bad checks, stealing and forgery. He has been convicted of at least six felonies, "all frauds and swindles," Schelp said.

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