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State Bar disbars attorney who tried to smuggle drugs into LA jail

A Southern California defense lawyer who smuggled heroin into jail for an incarcerated client has been stripped of his license to practice law.

Stephen Howard Beecher [#137509], 65, of Sherman Oaks, was disbarred on Nov. 18, 2016 after his 2014 felony conviction became final.

Beecher was arrested on April 9, 2013 after making arrangements to bring heroin to Jesus Antonio Duenas, a client who was in custody at the North County Correctional Facility on attempted murder charges. Just before Beecher was arrested, Duenas’ girlfriend Jessica Parades gave Beecher two packets of heroin, which she’d ironed to fit inside a greeting card, according to prosecutors and a State Bar Court stipulation in which Beecher agreed to be disbarred.

Beecher was arrested while in the visiting area of the jail with the card containing 36.09 grams of heroin worth more than $30,000 in his possession.

The drugs were intended for Duenas and “the Southside,” a “criminal enterprise that controls the drugs and other illegal activity inside jails,” according to an April 11, 2013 Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office press release.

Beecher was initially charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, one felony count of transportation of a controlled substance and one felony count of bringing a firearm into jail. He remained in county jail until Feb. 9, 2016. In 2014, he pleaded no contest to one felony count of bringing drugs into jail.

The State Bar stipulation noted two aggravating factors: Beecher’s prior suspension and that his more recent misconduct caused harm to the administration of justice by undermining the ability of jail officials to rely on the fact he could be trusted with the privilege of having access to inmates because he was an officer of the court.

In mitigation, he entered into a pretrial stipulation with the State Bar.