CHARLESTON -- A Mingo County attorney pleaded guilty Monday for his role in fraudulently obtaining more than $119,000 in falsified legal fees.
William H. Duty, 56, of Delbarton admitted he committed wire fraud while practicing as a court-appointed attorney in criminal cases prosecuted in Williamson, West Virginia. Among other types of cases, Duty represented indigent clients in state criminal matters.
As a normal practice, after a case was completed, Duty submitted a payment voucher form to the Circuit Court Judge for the Thirtieth Judicial Circuit of West Virginia, which includes Mingo County, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The Circuit Court Judge reviewed the payment voucher and signed a court order authorizing payment. Duty then submitted the court order to the state's Public Defender Services for payment. It took several months before WVPDS reimbursed Duty.
In December 2004, Duty entered into a cash-advance agreement with Daniels Capital Corporation, a corporation headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, to expedite payment from WVPDS for his legal services.
According to the attorney's office, In exchange for prompt payments less a small percentage, Duty assigned his right to full payment from WVPDS to DCC.
Meaning, once Duty received the court order approving his payment voucher for a particular case, he would fax a copy of the order to both WVPDS and DCC. DCC would wire Duty the reimbursement less a percentage that same day or the next day. When WVPDS eventually processed the same payment voucher, WVPDS would pay DCC directly the full amount.
As stipulated in his plea agreement, from June 2005 until at least December 2007, Duty submitted a number of fraudulent court orders to DCC for payment. In some cases, Duty created a false court order. In other cases, he modified court orders by increasing the reimbursement amount.
In total, Duty fraudulently obtained $119,375.87 from DCC.
Duty, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 3 before U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr., faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas C. Ryan is handling the prosecution. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service jointly conducted the investigation.