Federal jury convicts Justice Loughry
Sentencing set for Jan. 16
CHARLESTON – A federal jury on Friday found Allen Loughry, a justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court, guilty on 11 of 22 counts, innocent of 10 others and was hung on one.
Sentencing will be Jan. 16.
The verdicts come nearly one year after the first news reports about Loughry’s office renovations costing more than $350,000.
Loughry was charged by a federal grand jury June 20 in a 22-count federal indictment, including 17 counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, two counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering.
United States Attorney Mike Stuart for the Southern District said Friday was an important day for the people of West Virginia.
“The jury has confirmed that a justice on the state’s highest court, Justice Allen Loughry, is guilty of numerous and serious federal crimes, including witness tampering and lying to a federal agent,” Stuart said.
“As I stated at the outset of this matter, public corruption is a cancer that erodes public confidence and undermines the Rule of Law. This is not a sad day for West Virginia but, rather, a hopeful one,” he said. “The system worked. Corruption was rooted out. Confidence is restored.”
Stuart’s statement included a comment from Robert Jones, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Pittsburgh Field Office.
“No matter the level or the people involved, public corruption will not be tolerated in our communities,” Jones said. “Just like everyone else, a judge needs to follow the law. The FBI will continue to hold accountable those who betray the public’s trust.”
Loughry, an aide to former Gov. Gaston Caperton and former Rep. Harley Staggers, D-W.Va., was elected to the state Supreme Court in 2012 after working for years in the state attorney general’s office and as a law clerk for the late justice Elliot “Spike” Maynard and Justice Margaret Workman. Breaking tradition in 2016, Loughry was the first chief justice elected by his fellow justices to serve as the chief for a four-year term.
Troubles started for Loughry shortly after becoming the first four-year chief when he encouraged the court to fire former administrator Steve Canterbury in January 2017. Ten months later, reporter Kennie Bass with WCHS-TV in Charleston started asking the court about office renovations for the justices, focused on the renovations and furnishings in Loughry’s office.
Soon, more stories started coming out about expensive catered lunches the court was paying for with state purchasing cards and use of the court’s fleet of vehicles by Loughry and former justice Menis Ketchum, who pleaded guilty over the summer to one count of wire fraud for using a state fuel card to purchase gas for an out-of-state golf outing.
After the court found out about a subpoena issued to the court by federal investigators that Loughry had not told them about, the court removed Loughry as chief justice. The legislature’s Post Audit Division started releasing reports on the court’s spending and vehicle use between April and September.
The state Judicial Investigation Commission also released a 32-count complaint at the beginning of June against Loughry, detailing alleged violations of the judicial Code of Conduct. He was suspended without pay shortly thereafter.
Loughry – along with justices Workman, Walker and former justice Robin Davis – were cited in the articles of impeachment Aug. 13 by the House of Delegates. Of the 11 articles of impeachment adopted by the House, Loughry was charged in seven total articles for his office spending, use of court property at his home, circumventing state code by overpaying senior status judges, using state vehicles and fuel cards for his personal benefit, misusing state computers for use by his wife and son and lying under oath to the House Finance Committee.
Loughry’s impeachment trial before the state Senate is scheduled Nov. 12 unless he resigns before hand and senators agree to release him from the articles.