Tyson Wrensch approached me at the Independent’s booth at the Palm Springs Pride festival and told me about a book he’s co-authored about the murder of a Palm Springs man, and the crazy happenings both before and after the murder.
I knew exactly what case he was talking about. Until Someone Gets Hurt, written by Sherrie Lueder and Wrensch, offers the dizzying details about the cast of players in the well-publicized 2008 murder of Clifford Lambert, a 74-year-old Palm Springs retiree.
The book begins well before the murder, while Wrensch was on a month-long South America vacation. While in an Internet café, Wrensch discovered fraudulent activity in his bank accounts and on his credit cards. He panicked and quickly returned home to San Francisco.
Daniel Garcia, a former friend of Wrensch, was involved. Garcia, originally from San Francisco, was quite the man about town. He befriended wealthy gay men, stole their identities and drained their bank accounts. Assisting Garcia was a friend who told people he was a prince in Nepal, Kaushal Niroula; and a San Francisco attorney, David Replogle, who would help by filing frivolous lawsuits, getting power of attorney and offering advice on how to clean people out.
While Wrensch easily proved he was not in the country at the time of the fraud and was able to get back all of his money, he was unable to convince his bank to prosecute.
The story is full off odd twists and turns. Garcia claimed he had been raped by Thomas White, a San Francisco multimillionaire. Garcia made White one of his victims, and used connections through Replogle to have White jailed in Mexico. Wrensch eventually paid a visit to White in the Mexican prison, where White told his side of the story. (White later died there while trying to clear his name.)
The more you read Until Someone Gets Hurt, the more it becomes complex and intriguing. You’ll also wonder how the perpetrators could be so smart—and so dumb at the same time. Text messages between Garcia, Niroula and Replogle seem to show a hateful relationship at times, especially between Garcia and Niroula. I asked Wrensch how they managed to work so well together while expressing such personal hatred.
“They all got along great at first, but despite their growing to distrust and despise each other, their greed and need for each other to continue the cons kept them together,” Wrensch said, “like a dysfunctional, codependent family of thieves.”
When Clifford Lambert lost his partner, he decided to seek out a younger man to spend his days with; he would find men on younger-for-older dating sites, and fly them out for the weekend as a “try out.” He eventually “tried out” Daniel Garcia. The criminals began to steal Lambert’s identity, which later led to a cold-blooded murder—which brought yet more characters into the picture.
After the murder, Garcia, Niroula and Replogle sold off as many of Lambert’s assets as they could—including his home. However, local investigators started to take notice when Lambert’s friends and neighbors reported suspicious activity; people at local financial institutions who handled Lambert’s assets also started asking questions.
The fascinating story has led TruTV and Investigation Discovery to produce shows on the murder and its surrounding crimes. While all of the players were eventually caught and sentenced (after some bizarre legal proceedings), they left behind numerous victims who have been hurt by their scams.
As the book details all of the crimes, you’ll be astonished at what the perpetrators managed to get away with, how much money their scams brought in, and how long it all went on. Until Someone Gets Hurt is a fascinating read.
Until Someone Gets Hurt
By Sherrie Lueder and Tyson Wrensch
336 pages, $15.95