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Former attorney given 5 years' probation for part in scheme to be paid for work not done

Heidi J. Silver Myers provided 'substantial' assistance to the government in prosecution of co-defendent

January 25, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. — A federal judge Tuesday sentenced a former Martinsburg attorney to five years of probation for her part in an alleged scheme to be paid for court-appointed work that was not done.

Heidi J. Silver Myers, 32, pleaded guilty in April 2010, to one count of aiding and abetting mail fraud and one count of aiding and abetting wire fraud, but the court deferred acceptance of the plea until sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti told U.S. District Court Chief Judge John Preston Bailey in Tuesday's sentencing hearing that since entering the plea, Myers provided "substantial" assistance to the government in preparing to prosecute co-defendant, Nancy P. Burkhart.

In recommending probation, Camilletti said Myers took part in more than 20 days of meetings several hours each day and also assisted in the review of hundreds of documents, Camilletti said.

"We learned a great deal about the scheme," Camilletti said.

While avoiding a prison sentence, Myers was ordered by Bailey to pay $292,617 in restitution.

Burkhart, who has yet to be sentenced, and Myers were indicted on one count of conspiracy, 99 counts of mail fraud and 12 counts of wire fraud in 2007.

Burkhart pleaded guilty to one count of perjury in November 2010. Camilletti said Myers, in reviewing the documents in cooperation with the government, learned of "real fictions" that were produced by Burkhart, her former office manager.

Myers, whose license to practice law has been annulled, owned Myers Law Group in Martinsburg. She and Burkhart are accused of conspiring to submit vouchers for court-appointed work that Myers allegedly did not perform, according to court records.

Vouchers falsely billed the agency at the $45-per-hour rate for attorney time when the work was performed by paralegals or other employees of the law firm, according to the indictment.

The women allegedly conducted the voucher scheme from July 2004 to July 6, 2006, the government has said.

Bailey said Tuesday that he was prepared to sentence Myers to prison, but agreed to order probation after considering her cooperation with prosecutors, the non-violent offenses alleged and Silver's loss of her law license and reputation.

The judge also noted that Myers, who has divorced since being indicted and now goes by Heidi J. Silver, would not be able to pay off the $292,617 in restitution while in prison. Bailey ordered Myers to make $300 monthly payments.

"I do believe Ms. Silver has changed her life," Bailey said.

Myers, who was moved to tears by Bailey's decision, apologized for being rude to the judge at a previous hearing and noted the difficulty of the ordeal that has spanned five years.

Myers was first indicted in December 2006 for criminal contempt after failing to appear before a grand jury on the underlying allegations. In August 2008, she was sentenced to four months in prison, followed by four months of home confinement after being convicted of the charge.

Defense attorney S. Andrew Arnold Tuesday thanked the judge for allowing Myers the opportunity for probation on behalf of his client, her family and loved ones, many of whom attended the hearing.

Arnold said after the hearing that Myers now resides in Northern Virginia where she works for a government contracting business.

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