CHARLESTON — A Charleston attorney accused of charging the state for work he had never done has been arrested in Nicaragua, according to U.S. Marshals.
William M. Lester Jr., who was arrested Jan. 23, is facing several felony charges of overcharging the state thousands of dollars for work he never completed.
The 2016 indictment in Kanawha Circuit Court lays out that Lester "did unlawfully and feloniously engage in a scheme to deprive the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia Public Defender Services, an agency of the State of West Virginia, of money, goods, property and services having a value of at least One Thousand Dollars by a series of fraudulent pretenses, representations and promsies relating to alleged hours spent and expenses incurred providing legal services" to those in the state's custody.
The indictment lists dates from July 14, 2010, until May 23, 2014, as the alleged dates Lester's legal services were supposedly performed.
Another count on the indictment notes that in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Lester also deprived Creed Capital LLC of money, goods and services by fraud.
In an interview with Dana Eddy of Public Defender Services, WCHS reported in 2016 that there were many days Lester billed more than 24 hours.
“He had billed, in a two-year period, over $600,000 to the state for indignant defense, which at $45 an hour is an awful lot of hours and the resulting investigation found he had at least 17 days he billed an excess of 24 hours,” Eddy said to WCHS.
Judge Louis "Duke" Bloom ordered Lester's arrest in 2016 on computer fraud and fraudulent schemes after he didn't show up for his arraignment.
U.S. Marshals said Lester is expected to be extradited back to the U.S. next week.
Lester was believed to be in Costa Rica at one point and other Central American countries before he was tracked down in Nicaragua.
In 2017, he made headlines for tweeting the Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach when he joined Twitter — going as far as telling him to "send my best to all."