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Charleston lawyer who ran away to Nicaragua sentenced for fraud crime

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former lawyer will spend a 1-3 year prison term on home confinement after pleading guilty to fraud.

William “Bill” Lester (Photo/WVRJA)

William “Bill” Lester, 69, of Charleston, was sentenced Friday by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom following an earlier guilty plea. He was originally indicted on three criminal counts in 2016.

Lester, who surrendered his law license when he pleaded guilty, overcharged the state thousands of dollars while working as a court-appointed attorney. He then ran off to Nicaragua where he was later arrested by U.S. Marshals.

Lester apologized during Friday’s hearing.

“I accept responsibility for my actions and apologize to the court, the people of West Virginia and the people affected by my crime,” Lester said. “I especially apologize to the other lawyers and the discredit I have brought to the profession.”

Lester told Bloom he was prepared to make amends for his crime.

Duke Bloom

Bloom said instead of keeping Lester in jail where he would be immediately eligible for parole, he chose home confinement as an alternative sentence.

“Because the court can keep jurisdiction over him over a longer period of time on home confinement,” Bloom said. “I will serve as the parole board at the appropriate time.”

Bloom ordered restitution of nearly $100,000. Lester will have to pay $500 a month and perform one day of community service a week.

“I’ll look to see if there’s some agency where your legal skills might be put to use,” Bloom said.

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