Girl boss lawyer Kelly DuFord Williams arrested after months on the run

After nearly three months on the run, a San Diego attorney once heralded 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 on what Kelly DuFord Williams was up to while fleeing 1,300 miles from home, including promoting music concerts, finding summer love and faking being pregnant.

In an interview with Kirkland police officers Monday after she and new boyfriend Joseph White were arrested at a Motel 6 over reports of a domestic dispute, Williams revealed she had been in the Seattle area since March. The relationship, she told police, was quickly shaken by White’s alleged “controlling” behavior. These included rules against using social media and contacting other men, she said, and allowing him to keep her ID and credit cards.

“She stated that he also deposited her paychecks in his bank account,” a police report said.

However, Williams conveniently didn’t mention to police that she was wanted in California for nine federal felonies and had her attorney’s license revoked last month. In fact, she told police that, according to her report, she only found out about the March 20 arrest warrant issued against her “a few days before.”

After police learned of her 50-state warrant Monday, the 39-year-old was arrested in Snohomish County, Washington, on suspicion of being on the run. She is expected to appear in Snohomish County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon and is being held without bail. It’s not immediately clear if Williams hired an attorney.

In a phone call to The Daily Beast on Thursday, White confirmed he was released from prison and admitted he didn’t know too many details about Williams’ alleged crimes. While White declined to comment on Williams’ case, he insisted he was “still looking after her” and that she was trying to contact him from prison.

“We fell in love,” White said. “I don’t know 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-proclaimed “girl boss” attorney, who was once named one of San Diego Magazine’s Rising Women of 2021. In March, Williams was also charged with nine felonies, including grand larceny of personal property and check forgery, 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 Attorney’s Office declined to comment and William’s warrant was no longer active.

“Greed overwhelms everyone,” Bryan Morgan, who worked as a paralegal at Slate Law Group, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “I’m just glad she’s behind bars. Maybe now she can get the help she needs.”

California prosecutors allege that Williams used her boutique law firm, Slate Law Group, to divert settlement checks from her clients in 2020. Prosecutors also say that Williams “forged customer signatures on settlement checks before depositing them.”

The lawsuit comes after the California State Attorneys’ Court recommended in January that Williams’s license to practice law be revoked. The attorneys’ court found that in addition to client embezzlement, Williams also made two false 911 calls in Utah. The fake calls, in which Williams allegedly posed as a district attorney concerned for the welfare of a child, were made because she was angry at a former lover.

One of the clients named in the state bar court case is Kia Vaara, who represented Williams in a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer. The case was settled on July 8, 2021 and Vaara was awarded $42,500 – but the funds were remitted to the Slate Law Group. The alleged crimes against Vaara are also part of the California case against Williams. The complaint states, “Williams did not pay Vaara.”

But when prosecutors filed charges against Williams, the San Diego attorney was nowhere to be found. Until June 4, when Kirkland police responded to reports at a Motel 6 of a “possible domestic dispute between a man and woman.”

A police report for White describes how a motel neighbor heard Williams “shouting out loud, ouch.” When the neighbor approached the couple, Williams told her that “tonight is the first night he’s been violent towards me.”

“Kelly said she and Joseph argued, and during the argument Joseph violently grabbed Kelly’s upper arms, causing pain and bruising,” White’s arrest report said. “Kelly added that Joseph increasingly controlled her finances and ID documents. Joseph had Kelly’s paychecks deposited directly into his account and had Kelly’s driver’s license.”

The couple were quickly arrested and White was arrested on fourth-degree domestic violence charges.

White later admitted to police that he grabbed Williams’ upper arms and confirmed they “had been in a relationship for three months.” He said the two had a fight because she drank while pregnant and he was “worried about the baby,” according to his police report.

In her police interview, Williams said the altercation began after the two had been drinking alcohol. Williams told police that in addition to grabbing her arms, White “threw potato chips at her, insulted her and at one point spat on her,” the report said.

Williams’ arrest report also states that an officer escorted her to a patrol car and claimed that she was “ten weeks pregnant.” However, she was later released amid concerns about her high blood pressure and pregnancy while local authorities waited for the San Diego Police Department to confirm they had an active warrant out for her arrest.

That confirmation came the next day when officers returned to the motel and arrested Williams in her room. She was then taken to a hotel, where “following blood work, urine testing and an ultrasound, it was determined that Williams was not pregnant,” her police report said.

“I’m happy to see her trade in her Prada heels for shower shoes!” Vaara told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Justice will be served.”