Federal officials have charged a Massachusetts man alleging he mailed threatening communications and attempted to extort money from a Kanawha County judge.
Keith Lessard, 40, of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, sent letters and emails to the unnamed Kanawha Circuit judge and a Kanawha Commission employee, alleging that while the judge was an assistant prosecutor for the county, she engaged in prosecutorial misconduct during a 2010 case that involved Lessard, according to the criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of West Virginia.
The judge is only referred to as “she” and “her” in the complaint.
Lessard served 60 days in prison for violating the terms of his parole after testing positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine during a drug test; he was sentenced in 2010 to one year of probation after pleading guilty to one count of forgery and uttering.
From October 2019 to June 2020, Lessard allegedly mailed and emailed letters to the judge and commission employee venting about his conviction. He wrote in one letter about a conspiracy between unidentified FBI agents and the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney, attempting to extort $200 million from the judge and county.
Lessard allegedly wrote in an email on Jan. 23 that his charges were supposed to be dropped, like the rest of the defendants in the case, but instead, someone “penciled my name in w/charges to get me to appear in the courtroom,” and “we have a MAJOR problem and I want to do this without exposing you or anyone involved as it would ruin your reputation and the Kanawha County Judicial System forever.”
“You know what I’m talking about and we need to discuss a settlement and I’ll not say a word because I’m not out to hurt you or your family or Kanawha County but this is huge as you know,” Lessard wrote, according to the complaint.
There is no evidence supporting Lessard’s claims of illegal conduct on the part of the then-assistant prosecutor, according to the complaint.
“We take extortion threats very seriously and will investigate them to our full potential,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman in a news release. “People who think they can extort others need to know there will be consequences. These crimes cause severe emotional distress and will not be tolerated.”
Assistant United States Attorney Joshua C. Hanks is will be prosecuting the case, according to the news release.