West Virginia Public Defender Disbarred for Child Prostitution “Hoax”
A former West Virginia public defender has agreed to give up his license to practice law in the wake of a scandal involving allegations that he offered to sell children for sex. The state Supreme Court accepted the annulment of Steve Conifer’s law license on September 10, 2014.
Police in Charleston, West Virginia arrested Conifer, 34, in July 2012 and charged him with “receiving support from prostitution; pimping” after a man from New Jersey informed them that Conifer had offered to sell him children for sex during an online conversation.
According to authorities, Conifer, using the screen name “derekscarbo93,” told the man, “Well, gimmie an idea of age, service, [amount] of time u want, and I can try to give you an exact price, depending on the boy,” and “haha. Call me a pimp if u want 2. Don’t bother me.”
Later in the conversation, Conifer allegedly offered to show the man a photo of an “unbelieveably cute white boy” he could provide “in a hurry,” claiming he had “hookups” all over New Jersey. He then reportedly sent the man a photo of a young boy wearing a football jersey.
Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants said a search warrant executed prior to Conifer’s arrest revealed “wildly inappropriate and disgusting [online] conversations,” but nothing illegal. “There was insufficient evidence of a crime, but the evidence we found was disgusting,” Plants stated.
He said that Conifer, using various screen names, had pretended to be a minor in some cases and chatted online about performing sexual acts with adults. Conifer also pretended to be a child pimp, boasting that he could provide children for sex.
“It was just a hoax, but I have no sympathy for anyone who goes online and perpetrates the kinds of things he did. It just so happens that what he did doesn’t break any law,” Plants said.
Consequently, the criminal charges against Conifer were dropped on December 5, 2012, but Plants forwarded evidence from the case to the West Virginia State Bar. The Office of Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel then filed ethics charges against Conifer.
Conifer invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to the ethics charges, but agreed to the annulment of his license. He is eligible to reapply for a license to practice law in five years.
Sources: www.wvgazette.com, www.wsaz.com, www.charlestondailymail.com
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