The final two co-conspirators in a 2008 murder and fraud scheme have been brought to justice, thanks in part to thumbprint evidence left in the journal of a diligent Notary. The ongoing case has provided a lesson to Notaries nationwide on the value of recording all signers’ thumbprints — and it’s a lesson convicted criminal Kaushal Niroula will have plenty of time to ponder while serving his life sentence.
The high-profile criminal case had all the makings of a Hollywood “who-done-it”—fraud, forgery, deception, and the murder of Palm Springs resident Cliff Lambert in a plot by several conspirators to rob the wealthy man of his home, his possessions, and even his dog. Prominent San Francisco attorney David Replogle and co-conspirator Miguel Bustamante were sentenced last May for the 2008 crime. Niroula and co-defendant Daniel Carlos Garcia, sentenced in December, were the last of six conspirators to be brought to justice in this case.
“The most important material piece of evidence linking [the suspect] to the murder was the thumbprint in the Notary journal,” John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office told the NNA in a recent interview.
California and Illinois are the only two states currently requiring Notaries to record thumbprints for real-estate transactions, but Notaries nationwide are choosing to require prints for all transactions, as a recommended practice to protect themselves and the public against fraud or forgery.
To read more on this particular case, and to find out how several real-life Notaries used recorded thumbprints to protect themselves from liability and lawsuits, check out our feature in the November issue of the National Notary Magazine.