Lawyer who fled US pleads guilty after he's accused of repeatedly billing state for over 24 hours per day
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A suspended West Virginia lawyer who fled the country has pleaded guilty to a felony charge after being accused of overbilling for criminal defense work.
William Lester, 69, pleaded guilty Friday to attempting to commit fraudulent schemes, report WCHS and WSAZ. He entered the guilty plea after a judge refused to allow him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.
The plea deal requires Lester to pay restitution of more than $11,000 to the West Virginia Public Defender Services and nearly $73,000 to Creed Capital, a company that funds accounts receivable for court-appointed cases. Sentencing is set for March 12.
Lester was arrested in Nicaragua in January 2020. He had gone on the lam in 2016.
Over a two-year period, Lester had billed the state of West Virginia more than $600,000 for indigent defense work. A review found that Lester billed the state for more than 24 hours per day on at least 17 days, according to previous coverage.
While on the lam, Lester apparently began following an assistant prosecutor in Kanawha County on Twitter. “Welcome to Twitter. Send my Best to All!” Lester had purportedly written.
ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer accused of billing over 24 hours in a day suspended; but official said others were worse”