Mason, Wyoming Co. attorneys surrender licenses following fraud charges

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 9, 2011

CHARLESTON – Two attorneys -- one from Mason County and one from Wyoming County -- recently charged with wire fraud have been disbarred.

The state Supreme Court on Oct. 6 ordered the disbarment of Jeremy T. Vickers, and Christopher B. Bledsoe. The Court's action came following a motion made by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel that both Vickers, 36, an associate with the Casey Law Offices in Point Pleasant, Bledsoe, 33, a sole practitioner in Pineville, requested to have their licenses voluntary annulled.

In West Virginia, a disbarment is an automatic five-year prohibition on practicing law.

On Sept. 9, both were separately indicted by information on charges they submitted fraudulent bills for court-appointed criminal defense work. A filing of information means the accused is cooperating with prosecutors, and intends to plead guilty.

Records show Vickers between September 2008 and July 2010 submitted invoices for court-appointed work he performed in Mason, Jackson and Roane counties to a third-party in Huntington who, in exchange for a fee, would provide him an accelerated payment instead of having to wait for payment from the state Public Defenders Services. The name of the third-party is not disclosed in the indictment.

The indictment alleged Vickers committed wire fraud by not only submitting time sheets to the third-party containing "false and fraudulent information" from his office in Point Pleasant to the third-party's office in Huntington via fax, but also having the third-party wire the money from their bank, BB&T, in Huntington to his bank, Ohio Valley Bank, in Gallipolis, Ohio. The total amount Vickers received for the fraudulent billing was $1,476.

After formally pleading guilty to the single charge of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Robert C. "Chuck" Chambers in Huntington on Oct. 11, Vickers was released on bond on his own recognizance. Chambers scheduled his sentencing for Jan. 7.

He is represented by James Casey.

The indictment against Bledsoe alleged between January 2010 and February 2011, he falsified the work he did by inflating the hours he worked, created fake cases and forged the judge's signature for court-appointed work he did in Wyoming, Mercer and McDowell counties, and submitted the invoices to a different unnamed third-party in Birmingham, Ala. One of the invoices totaled $2,057.40.

Records show, Bledsoe formally plead guilty to the single count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger in Beckley on Sept. 22. Along with releasing him on $10,000 unsecured bond, Berger scheduled his sentencing for Feb. 22.

He is represented by Timothy Lupardus with the Lupardus Law Offices in Pineville.

According to the state Bar's Web site, Vickers and Bledsoe were admitted on Oct. 22, 2004, and June 8, 2005, respectively.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case numbers 11-1240 (Vickers) and 11-1278 (Bledsoe)

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