CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced today that Keith Lessard, 40, of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, was arrested on a federal criminal complaint alleging that he mailed threatening communications to a Kanawha County Circuit Judge. According to the criminal complaint, Lessard engaged in a series of communications with the Judge and others using email and the United States Postal Service. The communications were part of a scheme to extort money from the Judge by threatening injury to her reputation by claiming that she engaged in illegal prosecutorial misconduct in a 2010 case against Lessard when she was serving as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Kanawha County. The complaint further notes that there is no evidence supporting Lessard’s claims of illegal conduct on the part of the Assistant Prosecutor.
“Any threat to any member of the judiciary is taken very seriously. I commend the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for conducting the thorough investigation which led to Lessard’s arrest today,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.
“We take extortion threats very seriously and will investigate them to our full potential,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman. “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.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to preserving the integrity of the U.S. mail. By working closely with our law enforcement partners in operations like this, we can hold those engaged in terrible crimes accountable for their actions,” said Tosha Dennis, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Pittsburgh Division.
Lessard faces up to two years in prison, if convicted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) are conducting the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Joshua C. Hanks is handling the prosecution.
Note: The charge contained in the complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:20-mj-00106.