After almost three months on the run, a San Diego attorney once praised as local “woman of the year” has been arrested in Washington state after allegedly bilking clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And police reports obtained by The Daily Beast provide new details into what Kelly DuFord Williams was doing while on the lam 1,300 miles away from home, including promoting music concerts, finding summer love, and pretending to be pregnant.
In an interview with Kirkland Police officers on Monday, after she and her new boyfriend, Joseph White, were arrested in a Motel 6 on reports of a domestic dispute, Williams revealed that she had been in the Seattle area since March. The relationship, she told police, quickly turned sour by White’s alleged “controlling” behavior, which she said included rules against her using social media, contacting other males, and that he held onto her ID and credit cards.
“She stated that he also has her paychecks deposited in his bank account,” a police report states.
Williams, however, conveniently did not mention to police that she was wanted in California for nine federal crimes and had been disbarred last month. In fact, she told police she had not heard about the warrant for her arrest, which was issued on March 20, until “ a couple days earlier,” according to their report.
On Monday, after police learned of her 50-state warrant, the 39-year-old was arrested in Snohomish County, Washington on one count of being a fugitive. She is expected to appear in Snohomish County Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon and is being held with no bond. It is not immediately clear if Williams has retained a lawyer.
In a phone call with The Daily Beast on Thursday, White confirmed that he was out of jail and admitted he did not know too many details about Williams’ alleged crimes. While White did not want to comment on Williams’ case, he insisted that he “still cared for her” and that she was trying to contact him from jail.
“We fell in love,” White said. “I don’t know too much, I know she was a lawyer.”
The revelation of where Williams spent her summer marks the latest development in the stunning downfall of the self-described “girl boss” attorney once named one of San Diego Magazine’s Women of the Year Rising Stars in 2021. In March, Williams was also charged with nine felony charges, including grand theft of personal property and forgery of checks, after allegedly stealing more than $400,000 from at least eight legal clients, according to a criminal complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court.
The San Diego District Attorney’s Office declined to comment and William’s arrest warrant was no longer active.
“Greed gets the best of anyone,” Bryan Morgan, who worked as a paralegal at Slate Law Group, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “I’m just happy she is behind bars. Maybe now she can get the help she needs.”
California prosecutors allege that in 2020, Williams used her boutique law firm, Slate Law Group, to divert settlement checks from her clients. Prosecutors also say that Williams “forged client signatures on settlement checks prior to depositing them.”
The criminal charges came after the California State Bar Court recommended Williams be disbarred in January. The Bar Court found that, in addition to misappropriation from clients, Williams also made two false 911 calls in Utah. The fake calls, in which Williams allegedly posed as a district attorney worried about the welfare of a child, were placed because she was angry at a former lover.
One of the clients named in the State Bar Court case is Kia Vaara, whom Williams represented in a sexual harassment suit against her former employer. The case was settled on July 8, 2021, and Vaara was awarded $42,500—but the funds were sent to Slate Law Group. The alleged crimes against Vaara are also a part of the California case against Williams. The complaint notes that “Williams has not paid Vaara,” who is owed $15,200.
But when prosecutors filed the charges against Williams—the San Diego attorney was nowhere to be found. Until June 4, when the Kirkland Police Department responded to reports at a Motel 6 about a “possible domestic dispute between a male and female.”
A police report for White details how a motel neighbor heard Williams “scream ‘ouch’ loudly.” When the neighbor approached the couple, Williams told her “tonight is the first night he has gotten violent with me.
“Kelly said she and Joseph had been arguing, and during the argument Joseph had grabbed Kelly’s upper arms forcefully, causing pain and bruising,” White’s arrest report states. “Kelly added that Joseph had been increasingly controlling of her finances and identity documents. Joseph was having Kelly’s direct deposit paychecks go directly into his account and was in possession of Kelly’s driver’s license.”
The couple were quickly apprehended and White was arrested for domestic violence assault in the 4th degree.
White later admitted to police that he grabbed Williams by the upper arms and confirmed they had been “in a dating relationship for three months.” He said the pair were arguing because she was drinking while pregnant and he was “worried about the baby,” his police report states.
In her police interview, Williams said that the altercation began after the pair had both been drinking. In addition to grabbing her by the arms, Williams told police, White allegedly “threw potato chips at her, insulted her, and at some point spat on her,” the report states.
Williams’ arrest report also notes that while an officer walked her to a patrol car, she claimed that she was “10 weeks pregnant.” She was later released, however, out of concerns for her high blood pressure and pregnancy while local authorities waited for San Diego police to confirm she had an active warrant out for her arrest.
That confirmation came the following day when officers returned to the motel and arrested Williams inside her room. She was then transferred to a hotel, where “it was determined that Williams was not pregnant following blood work, urine test, and ultrasound,” her police report states. (White could not immediately be reached for comment and it is not clear whether he is still in jail.)
“I’m excited to see her exchange her Prada heels for shower shoes!” Vaara told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Justice will be served.”
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