UPDATE: Former Kanawha County magistrate judge to appear in court

By  | 

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 2/12/19 @ 11:44 a.m.
A former Kanawha County magistrate judge will appear in court in March, but on the other side of the bench.

Julie Yeager will have a hearing March 25 at 1:30 p.m. in front of Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom.

According to a filing from the West Virginia Judicial Commission -- a civil proceeding -- Yeager's actions equate to felony embezzlement and felony falsifying assets, according to West Virginia Code.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller says the hearing "should be the dispositive."

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office raided Yeager's home in October of 2017. At the time, WSAZ was told the raid was in connection to an embezzlement investigation involving Yeager and her position with the West Virginia Magistrates Association when she served as treasurer.

In December of 2017, the state Judicial Investigation Commission also determined that probable cause exists to formally charge Julie Yeager with a violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The document says that Yeager violated rules that include: compliance with the law, confidence in the judiciary, avoiding the abuse of prestige of office, external influences on the judicial conduct, extra judicial activities in general, appointment to fiduciary positions and acceptance and reports of loans benefits or other things of value.

Yeager served as the treasurer of the West Virginia Magistrates Association from 2010 to 2017.

UPDATE 1/3/18 @ 1:47 p.m.
A case against a former Kanawha County magistrate is being referred to the State Auditor's Forensic Fraud Unit.

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller tells WSAZ that in December her office requested the assistance of the West Virginia Auditor's Office.

This comes after Yeager's home was raided in October by the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office. At the time, WSAZ was told the raid was in connection to an embezzlement investigation involving Yeager and her position with the West Virginia Magistrates Association when she served as treasurer.

In December, the state Judicial Investigation Commission also determined that probable cause exists to formally charge Julie Yeager with a violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The document says that Yeager violated rules that include: compliance with the law, confidence in the judiciary, avoiding the abuse of prestige of office, external influences on the judicial conduct, extra judicial activities in general, appointment to fiduciary positions and acceptance and reports of loans benefits or other things of value.

Yeager served as the treasurer of the West Virginia Magistrates Association from 2010 to 2017.

According to the filing from the West Virginia Judicial Commission, which is a civil proceeding, Yeager's actions equate to felony embezzlement and felony falsifying assets according to West Virginia Code.

Keller says a panel of forensic auditors with the State Auditor's Office will now gather additional information to determine if a crime has been committed before the case would go to the grand jury.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/12/17 @ 11:05 p.m.
The state Judicial Investigation Commission has determined that probable cause exists to formally charge Julie Yeager with violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The document says that Yeager, who had never previously been in trouble, violated rules that include: compliance with the law, confidence in the judiciary, avoiding the abuse of prestige of office, external influences on the judicial conduct, extra judicial activities in general, appointment to fiduciary positions and acceptance and reports of loans benefits or other things of value.

Filed in November, the charges were made public Tuesday.

Yeager swerved as the treasurer of the West Virginia Magistrates Association from 2010 to 2017.

According to the filing from the West Virginia Judicial Commission, which is a civil proceeding, Yeager's actions equate to felony embezzlement and felony falsifying assets according to West Virginia Code.

According to the document filed, she lied to the board about the amount of money that was in the account in February 2017, the document also says that she never paid a bill in the amount of $959.08 that she told the board was paid and more than a year after the purchase the bill was paid by the association’s president.

In July 2017, a bank employee tried to call Yeager to tell her the account, which members were lead to believe had more than $23,000 in it, was overdrawn.

According to the document, Yeager told the association's president that she placed the money in a new account because the bank was charging them interest on the old account. After a series of phone calls, it was determined by the association’s president that no account had been created and the original account had a deficit.

The document reveals that several checks associated with the account were made out to cash and spent on personal items or events not associated with the association.

When confronted by the association president, the document says that Yeager admitted taking the money and using it for "her own advantage."

The document states that Yeager repeatedly apologized to the association president. He then told her he wanted the money repaid by the next day.

The document reveals that on July 19, 2017 Yeager's father cashed bonds totaling $9,600 and deposited the money in the overdrawn account at the WesBanco Branch in Dunbar.

About an hour later it says that Yeager came back through the drive-thru of the same branch and deposited approximately $9,500. According to the document a short while later she went through another branch drive-thru and deposited $5,000 in cash.

Later that day, Yeager returned to the Dunbar branch with a final deposit. That is where the manager confirmed to the Association President that the money had been paid back in full.

Later that afternoon, the association president told her she needed to resign as the organization’s treasurer. A few days later, she resigned as a Kanawha County magistrate.

According to the documents obtained by the West Virginia Judicial Commission, the embezzlement happened for a period of 18 to 20 months starting in January 2015.

Bank statements revealed payments to Appalachian Power totaling $1,160.

The West Virginia Judicial Commission document is a civil disciplinary proceeding and Yeager is subject to sanctions as a result.

A search warrant was served at Yeager's home in Dunbar on Oct. 17 as a result of an embezzlement investigation. The Kanawha County Sheriff is handling that investigation and will present its findings to the Raleigh County prosecutor who will determine if the case will be sent to the grand jury or if any charges will be filed.

The Kanawha County prosecutor recused himself from the case earlier this year.

According to a statement from Jesse Forbes, Yeager's attorney, "The judicial investigation proceedings have been postponed pending the resolution of the ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation by the Sheriff's department and special prosecutor is continuing. We look forward to cooperating with the investigation and working through the judicial process."



UPDATE 10/17/17 @ 11:50 p.m.
Investigators will soon begin analyzing financial records, cell phone records and other documents taken from a former Kanawha County Magistrate's home on Tuesday.

According to Raleigh County Assistant Prosecutor Brandon Steele, search warrants were executed at Yeager's home on Highland Avenue in Dunbar Tuesday afternoon, in connection to an embezzlement investigation involving Yeager and her position with the West Virginia Magistrates Association when she served as its treasurer.

According to Steele, the documents found will be reviewed by qualified experts in forensic accounting.

If a crime is apparent, the office will prosecute accordingly.

"It's very serious allegations and we want to make sure that we're doing a full and complete investigation," Steele said. "If [forensic experts] come to us with a report that indicates the crime has been committed, we will seek to indict."

No charges have been filed at this time.

"We don't seek to charge people with something," Steele said. "What we seek is that we find the truth, the investigation is done properly, and that we do justice by the people of Kanawha County."

Yeager resigned from her position as a magistrate in July after a complaint was filed by the administrative director of the Supreme Court of Appeals and a report filed by the Judicial Disciplinary Council.

The Raleigh County Prosecutor's Office was assigned to handle the case after the Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office recused themselves.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.


UPDATE 10/17/17 @ 4:59 p.m.
Search warrants have been executed at a former Kanawha County magistrate's home, according to the Raleigh County Assistant Prosecutor Brandon Steele.

Steele says Kanawha County deputies are at Julie Yeager's home along Highland Avenue in Dunbar obtaining bank records, financial records, and cell phone and computer information.

According to Steele, the documents will then be reviewed by qualified experts in forensic accounting in connection to an embezzlement investigation involving Yeager and her position with the West Virginia Magistrates Association when she served as the treasurer.

If a crime is apparent, the office will prosecute accordingly.

No charges have been filed at this time.

Yeager resigned from her position as a magistrate in July after a complaint was filed by the administrative director of the Supreme Court of Appeals and a report filed by the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel.

The Raleigh County Prosecutors Office was assigned to handle the case after the Kanawha County Prosecutors Office recused themselves.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/3/17 @ 5:55 p.m.
A new magistrate has been appointed in Kanawha County.

According to Chief Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey, Angela Purdue will serve as a magistrate until December 31, 2018.

Judge Bailey says Purdue has worked as a home confinement officer in Kanawha County and has also worked with the state supreme court.

Purdue will replace former Magistrate Julie M. Yeager, who resigned from her position amid a complaint filed by the Administrative Director of the Supreme Court of Appeals and a report filed by the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel.

Court documents state the court has probable cause to believe Yeager has engaged in serious violations of the code of judicial conduct.



ORIGINAL STORY 7/21/17
A Kanawha County Magistrate has resigned from her position amid a complaint filed by the Administrative Director of the Supreme Court of Appeals and a report filed by the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel.

Magistrate Julie M. Yeager resigned from the position on Thursday. In Yeager’s resignation letter, she didn’t give a reason why she was stepping down, but wrote “Effective immediately, I hereby resign my position as Magistrate for Kanawha County.”

According to court documents, the complaint was filed against her by the Administrative Director of the Courts, Gary L. Johnson.

The order states “Having maturely considered the report pursuant to Rule 2.14(c) of the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure, the Court is of the opinion that there is probable cause to believe the respondent has engaged or is currently engaging in serious violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

Court documents show that Magistrate Yeager would have been suspended without pay and been prohibited from hearing any further civil or criminal matter or performing any other judicial functions during the pendency of this matter, if she had not resigned.

Yeager has been a Kanawha County Magistrate for more than 13 years. She was first elected in November 2004.

According to court records, Yeager has not been the subject of any prior judicial discipline.

County officials tell WSAZ Chief Circuit Court Judge, Jennifer Bailey, will appoint a new magistrate to serve the rest of Yeager’s term.

WSAZ also reached out to Magistrate Yeager for comment, but the call was not returned before publication of this article.

Keep checking the WSAZ App and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



 
Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus