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Press Release

Former State Magistrate Judge Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $24,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Kansas

WICHITA, KAN. – A former state district magistrate judge in southeast Kansas pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling approximately $24,000, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Bill W. Lyerla, 64, Galena, Kan., pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud. In his plea, Lylera admitted he embezzled the money from the Kansas District Magistrate Judges Association while he served as an elected treasurer for the organization. In the state system, magistrate judges conduct first appearances and preliminary examinations of felony charges and hear felony arraignments, as well as performing other judicial duties. Lyerla was a magistrate judge for the state’s Eleventh Judicial District from 1991 to his resignation in 2014.

In his plea, he admitted that as treasurer for the judges association he had authority to write checks to pay for the organization’s legitimate expenses. He used that power to fraudulently write checks payable to himself on the association’s bank account.

Sentencing is set for July 6. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each count. Grissom commended the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett for their work on the case.

Updated February 22, 2016

Public Corruption