Man Claims Clerk-Recorder's Lies Put Him Behind Bars For 19 Years

By Garth Stapley
The Modesto Bee
Nov. 02, 2015

FRESNO - Ex-convict Roger Steiner lives in a broken-down motor home that he bought for $500 and covered with a tarp to keep out rain, parked in a cow pasture. The landowner’s well went dry, so he has no running water. He lives on Social Security and dreams of striking it rich panning for gold.

“I (urinate) in a bottle. I roll feces in a newspaper and let it dry, then I burn it,” he said, reflecting on his living conditions since being released from federal prison in early 2014. “That’s how this has affected my life. Thank you, Karen Mathews.”

Roger Steiner wasted 19 of his 77 years behind bars, he says, convicted on the word of a woman now facing prison time for allegedly lying to a U.S. Treasury Department agent in a recent investigation. The same agent told him that he now believes Steiner is an innocent man, Steiner said Friday. The Modesto Bee was unable to talk with the agent to confirm that is what he told Steiner.

“I’ll tell you upfront: It wasn’t me,” Steiner, a former crop-duster pilot, said of the 1994 brutal ambush and sexual assault of Stanislaus County’s elected clerk-recorder. “I never laid a finger on Karen Mathews,” he said.

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