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Press Release

Family Members Sentenced for Roles in Arson and Insurance Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – Georgetta Lester Kenny and Greg Lester, two members of a Southern West Virginia family, were sentenced to prison by Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  After a five day trial earlier this year, a federal jury found them guilty of various charges related to an arson and insurance fraud scheme.  Georgetta Lester Kenney, formerly known as Georgetta Lester, age 42, was sentenced to 36 months in prison and was ordered to pay $578,147 in restitution and forfeit $184,623.  Greg Lester, age 41, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $578,147 and forfeit $11,965.   Agents with the West Virginia Insurance Commission, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation.  

“Arson and insurance fraud are serious crimes that impact all of us, particularly through increased insurance premiums,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “The ordering of restitution and forfeiture in cases like this one is every bit as important as the prison sentences imposed.  Criminals should not be able to keep profits obtained through their fraudulent schemes.”

Between April of 2012 and January of 2016, the defendants, along with Windel Lester, James “Punkin” Lester, and others, participated in various ways in three separate but inter-related schemes involving arson, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Their overall purpose was to enrich themselves by fraudulently obtaining insurance proceeds on houses they intentionally burned. The houses were insured for amounts greatly exceeding their value and the value of any contents. The houses were located at Matoaka in Mercer County, Huntington in Cabell County, and Ikes Fork in Wyoming County.

Windel Lester was found guilty of 17 felony charges and faces 340 years imprisonment.  James “Punkin” Lester was found guilty of 23 felony charges and faces 475 years imprisonment.   They are scheduled to be sentenced on January 20, 2019.

Others involved included Dudley Bledsoe, Ricky Gleason, and James Browning, all of whom pled guilty and have been sentenced.

Assistant United States Attorneys Philip H. Wright and R. Gregory McVey handled the prosecution. 



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Updated December 20, 2018