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Charleston lawyer accused of charging state for work never done

Bill Lester is facing felony charges for allegedly overcharging the state thousands of dollars for work that was never done. (WCHS/WVAH File Photo)

A Charleston lawyer is facing felony charges for allegedly overcharging the state thousands of dollars for work that was never done.

A flawed accounting system appears to have allowed charges, including multiple days where more than 24 hours of work were claimed.

“You know, simple humanity demands that this man not be put in jail,” lawyer Bill Lester said during a 2005 court argument.

Lester was in Panama Friday as a deputy called his name to answer a three-count indictment. A judge then ordered his arrest on charges of fraudulent schemes and computer fraud that took place in 2014, or earlier.

The charges accuse Lester of overcharging for public defender services and Creed Captial, LLC for time he spent working as a court-appointed criminal lawyer.

Creed paid court appointed lawyers up front for a fee rather than making them wait months for the state to pay them.

“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,” said Dana Eddy of Public Defender Services.

Prosecutors think Lester is in Costa Rica but will still attempt to extradite him. About 800 lawyers will get paid yearly by Public Defenders Services to represent people who can’t afford a lawyer.

A computerized billing system installed since some of Lester’s questionable billing is expected to catch future problems more quickly.


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