Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Cliff was last seen on December 5, 2008 in Palm Springs, California.
Daniel Carlos Garcia was convicted on Septtember 7 2011, with co-defendant Kaushal Niroula, of the stabbing death of Clifford Lambert, who was attacked in the kitchen of his Palm Springs home on December 5, 2008, and buried in the desert. Prosecutors said there was a financial crime behind the murder.
They were the last of six defendants to be prosecuted in the case, and the other four were convicted or pleaded guilty. David Replogle, a San Francisco attorney, and Miguel Bustamante were convicted in January 2011 of first-degree murder and eight other felony counts stemming from Lambert's death, and both were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. San Francisco art dealer Russell Manning pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in the case in 2010 and was sentenced to five years in prison. Craig McCarthy pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in August 2010.
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.
Garcia met Lambert online the spring before he died, and Lambert paid for Garcia to travel from Northern California to see him. Garcia's visit didn't go well and he left earlier than planned, charging Lambert's credit card when he upgraded his plane ticket to first class. Garcia sent Lambert's address and phone number to Niroula, and on Dec. 1, Replogle and Niroula flew to Burbank and drove to Palm Springs. The next day, Niroula posed as an attorney representing a wealthy New York family that had left Lambert money or valuable artwork in a will. On December 5, Niroula was at Lambert's home, and at some point he let McCarthy and Bustamante into the house. McCarthy grabbed Lambert and held him at knifepoint in the kitchen, and Bustamante stabbed Lambert to death.
They put Lambert's body into the trunk of his own Mercedes-Benz, and Bustamante and McCarthy buried Lambert in the desert the next day, according to the prosecutor. They drove the car to the Bay Area, and Garcia started using Lambert's debit card to withdraw money the same day.
On Dec. 10, Niroula allegedly opened a Wells Fargo account with Replogle's identity and account numbers. The next day, Replogle, posing as Lambert, gave art dealer Manning power of attorney over Lambert's accounts, and Manning -- accompanied by Niroula -- wired $185,000 from Lambert's Palm Springs bank account to the newly opened Wells Fargo account.
On Dec. 12, Replogle -- again posing as Lambert and accompanied by Niroula -- met with a notary and forged four power of attorney documents, including a durable power of attorney that gave Manning power of attorney over Lambert's entire estate. The same day, Niroula transferred $30,000 into Bustamante's account and Manning wrote a check to Replogle for more than $15,000, closing out Lambert's account.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Palm Springs Police Department