In 2021, Kelly Duford Williams was named a ‘Woman of the Year Rising Star’ by San Diego Magazine. However, two years later, she is a wanted fugitive being pursued by U.S. Marshals.
The California Bar Association has revoked Williams’ license to practice law in the state, and an arrest warrant for grand theft has been issued in San Diego County.
Her swift descent may be surprising, but accusations of professional misconduct have been circulating about Williams for at least two years.
Kia Vaara was referred to Williams’ firm, Slate Law Group, by a friend when she required legal representation. Vaara felt supported by Williams, who expressed a strong commitment to empowerment of women. As a single mother, Vaara found this particularly reassuring.
Williams secured a $48,000 settlement for Vaara. On the day of their courthouse visit, Williams made a playful promise to gift Vaara a pair of Prada heels – a promise which remains unfulfilled, much like Vaara’s settlement.
Despite Williams’ assurance that the settlement money would arrive within a week to ten days, Vaara never received it. Williams initially attributed this to errors with mailing and spelling, but the anticipated check never materialized.
After two months, Vaara concluded she would never receive her settlement money. She took to social media to share her experience and also filed an official complaint with the California Bar Association.
Vaara isn’t the only one who’s been disappointed by Williams. Documentation reveals another woman who reported that Williams had failed to transfer her settlement funds as well.
The Bar Association’s investigation into Williams uncovered 16 instances of misconduct. These include misappropriation of client funds, providing false reports to police under a false name, falsely identifying herself as a Deputy District Attorney, and sending a staff member to court pretending to be a lawyer.
Despite the charges, Williams maintains her innocence. However, the hearing officer held her responsible for all 16 counts of misconduct, as per Chief Counsel George Cardona, who highlighted that the court found Williams to be dishonest regarding certain facts during the trial.
Vaara, who testified against Williams, expressed satisfaction upon learning that Williams had been stripped of her law license.
Vaara said, “I feel like I got my little bit of justice and I took a really bad lawyer off the streets.”
Yet, Williams is still at large, having closed her law practice and disappeared. Vaara claims to be tracking Williams’ movements on social media and believes she knows her current whereabouts.
Once apprehended, Williams’ bail will be set at $25,000.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has handed over the case to the U.S. Marshals Service. Attempts to reach the Marshal’s Service to inquire about their progress have so far been unsuccessful.