As of Monday morning, South Central Regional Jail has a distinguished new inmate: former Kanawha County Magistrate Julie Yeager.
Last Friday, Yeager experienced what it’s like to be a defendant instead of a judge and to have a sentence handed down to her instead of by her. Now she gets the chance to see what it’s like to be incarcerated. Unless fortunate enough to receive parole prior to the completion of her sentence, she will call the regional jail home for the next ten years.
At some point, she will have to complete 500 hours of community service as well. In the meantime, she has lost her retirement benefits and is prohibited from ever holding public office again.
Yeager confessed to stealing more than $30,000 from the West Virginia Magistrates Association and pled guilty in Kanawha Circuit Court to two felony counts: embezzlement by a public official and fraudulent schemes.
“During the 2012 through 2017 time frame, while I was a magistrate in Kanawha County, I was treasurer of the West Virginia Magistrates Association. During that time, I took monies of the association and used them for my own personal use,” Yeager acknowledged at her hearing.
“This is a troubling case to the court,” Judge Duke Bloom told Yeager during her sentencing. “Not only because of the stature that you formally held as a magistrate in Kanawha County and the public trust that you held, but that you stole from your peers.”
Yeager’s theft came to light nearly two years ago when a Wesbanco employee tried to phone her to let her know that the account for the magistrates association was overdrawn. Unable to reach her, the bank employee contacted another magistrate, who was surprised by the news. An investigation by the West Virginia State Auditor’s Public Integrity & Fraud Unit ensued and Yeager subsequently resigned.
It’s encouraging to see the law fairly applied to a judge. We can only wonder what kind of justice Yeager dispensed during 13 years on the bench.