Two attorneys disbarred following criminal convictions

By Lawrence Smith | Jun 5, 2008

CHARLESTON – The state Supreme Court has yanked the licenses of two attorneys after their conviction on criminal charges.

CHARLESTON – The state Supreme Court has yanked the licenses of two attorneys after their conviction on criminal charges.

In an April 24 press release, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the investigative arm of the State Bar, announced the disbarment of both William T. Douglass Jr. and Heidi Janelle Silver Myers following their recent conviction in state and federal court, respectively. The Court annulled their licenses on April 3 following ODC's petition for annulment on Feb. 6.

Court records show on Nov. 13, Douglass was indicted on a charge of information that he falsified accounts at the state Board of Pharmacy, where he served as executive director. According to the indictment, Douglass "falsified an entry into accounts kept by, and the books of accounts kept by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy relating to a trip to a National Association of Boards of Pharmacy meeting in order to permit him to obtain money he was not entitled to and to defraud the state of West Virginia."

On Nov. 27, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman sentenced Douglass to two years probation and ordered him to pay $6,569.81 to the Board in restitution to by paid in monthly installments of $273.74.

Douglass' attorney, John A. Kessler Jr., reported the pending criminal charges to ODC on Nov. 5, records show.

On Jan. 17, Myers was convicted in the United States District Court in Wheeling for criminal contempt. U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp found Myers guilty after a two-day bench trial held in May 2007.

According to court records, Myers, who ran the Myers Law Group in Martinsburg, was indicted on Dec. 6, 2006 following her failure to appear before and comply with a subpoena issued by the federal grand jury the day before.

In its petition, ODC charged both Douglass and Myers with violating Rule 8.4b of the Rules of Professional Conduct which relates to "commit[ing] a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects." Pursuant to Rule 3.18 of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure, ODC may petition the Court to annul an attorney's license following his or her conviction, and absent it's own investigation.

According to their disciplinary files, Douglass, who was licensed in October 1992, had no complaints lodged against prior to the annulment while Myers had one.

However, Myers, who was licensed October 2003 has six outstanding complaints against her. According to ODC, two were filed in 2006, one in July and the other in August, with the remaining four filed this year, three in January, and the last in May.

On April 17, Myers, via her attorney William P. Moffitt, petitioned the court for an emergency reinstatement of her license, and for a mitigation hearing on the outstanding complaints. Though the Court on April 24, denied the petition for reinstatement, it did grant Myers' request for a hearing.

Pending a closure of a hearing panel subcommittee of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board, the complaints remain open and under investigation, said interim Chief Disciplinary Counsel Rachel Fletcher Cipoletti.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Case Nos. 33853 (Douglass) and 33839 (Myers)

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