Wyoming County attorney sentenced to 18 months - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Wyoming County attorney sentenced to 18 months

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A Wyoming County attorney who failed to pay more than $389,000 in taxes was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney's office recently announced.

Charles B. Mullins II, 52, of Daniels, entered an August 2012 guilty plea to tax evasion. Mullins, who practiced law in Pineville, admitted that from 2006-2009 he failed to pay taxes and also admitted he owed the state public defender program $223,605.

He also admitted owing $184,030 to an Alabama-based Daniels Capital Corp. by making false statements concerning the amount of time he worked on court-appointed criminal defense work.

Mullins submitted false payment vouchers to the West Virginia Public Defender Services, where he falsely inflated the amount of hours he worked on particular cases, the news release states.

As an example, the news release states that between March 2005 and June 2011 Mullins reported working more than 24 hours in one day. The news release notes he did this on several occasions.

In addition to his sentence, Mullins must pay $780,146.51 in restitution. 

This case is similar to two others. In one case, another former Pineville attorney, Christopher Bledsoe, pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

Bledsoe, who was appointed by circuit judges in Wyoming, Raleigh and Mercer counties, admitted to falsifying records more than 100 times.

From January 2010 to February 2011, Bledsoe sent payment vouchers to a known entity in Birmingham, Ala. This known individual would then advance Bledsoe a payment, according to the information.  

Bledsoe also would authorize the West Virginia Public Defender's office to pay the known person directly for these vouchers.

The information stated Bledsoe misrepresented the work he had done, falsified a circuit judge's signature for payment vouchers and created "fictitious clients and case numbers."

Bledsoe was sentenced in early 2012 to 18 months and three years of supervised release. He also was ordered to pay $188,000 in restitution.

In the second case, a former Point Pleasant attorney was sentenced in 2012 to 21 months in prison after fraudulently submitting payment vouchers.

At the end of cases, Jeremy T. Vickers, 36, would submit payment voucher forms to the circuit court judge for approval. After these vouchers were authorized, Vickers would submit the court order to the West Virginia Public Defender Services for payment.

The public defender services typically would take several months to reimburse these vouchers, so Vickers entered into a cash-advance agreement with the Huntington-based Attorney Finance Corp to expedite payments.

Prosecutors allege Vickers falsely inflated working hours on these payment vouchers. According to court filings, Vickers allegedly billed more than 24 hours of legal work for at least 173 days, totaling $221,740.43 of fraudulently obtained money.

"Lawyers hold a position of public trust," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a release. "When that trust is broken, the public and the legal profession suffer. It is particularly disappointing when a member of the bar is convicted of wrongdoing. The sentence of the court in this case will hopefully send a clear message that such conduct cannot be tolerated."