CHARLESTON – On the heels of surrendering her license, a Barbour County attorney has pled guilty to charges she defrauded the state in submitting inflated bills for court-appointed criminal defense work.
Lisa A. Weese formally pled guilty to a charge of mail fraud before Magistrate Judge John Kaull on Nov. 6 in the U.S. District Court. Five days earlier, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a charge of information against Weese, 43 and of Belington, in the Northern District’s Elkins Division, alleging for five years she falsely billed the state Public Defender Services for nearly $160,000.
A charge of information means the accused is cooperating with prosecutors and intends to plead guilty.
According to the indictment, Weese was on the list of attorneys approved for public defender cases in Barbour, Randolph, Taylor and Tucker counties. In lieu of submitting them directly to PDS, Weese would submit the vouchers for the work she performed to a financing company that promptly remitted payment in exchange for a fee.
The two companies to which Weese submitted her vouchers were Daniels Capital in Birmingham, Ala., and Attorney Finance Corp. in Huntington. Though AFC’s fee is not stated, Daniels’ is 25 percent.
On one occasion, Weese asked Daniels to wire money to a bank in Colorado to enable her to purchase an antique race car. Details of the purchase are not stated in court records.
According to the indictment, an investigation conducted by the state Legislature’s Commission on Special Investigations found between September 2006 and September 2011, Weese fraudulently billed PDS for $159,130.08. The investigation determined Weese would had to have worked more than 10 hours a day for 537 days, and in some instances more than 24 hours.
Prior to her indictment, the state Supreme Court on Sept. 20 ordered Weese’s disbarment. The Court’s decision came in response to a petition filed earlier in the month by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel asking that her license be annulled by voluntary consent.
In West Virginia, a disbarment is an automatic five-year prohibition on practicing law. According to its website, Weese was admitted to the state Bar on Oct. 2, 1995.
As of presstime, a sentencing date has yet to be be set. She faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
The case is assigned to Judge John Preston Bailey.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case number 12-1021
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 12-cr-31