A West Virginia Supreme Court justice is in very hot water and is about to go to prison it looks like. Allen H. Loughry II, a 47-year-old justice at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, faces up to 395 years in prison and $5.5 million in fines after being hit with a 22-count indictment on numerous charges of fraud and corruption. Someone’s been a very naughty judge. He was charged by a federal grand jury on Wednesday with fraud, false statements, and witness tampering offenses. Loughry will be back in court this week to answer the charges against him.
“A federal grand jury has charged a Justice on the state’s highest court with numerous and serious federal crimes,” United States Attorney Mike Stuart said in a statement just released. “On this day—West Virginia Day—the people of our great state deserve better. They have worked too hard and too long to tolerate misconduct that strikes at the heart of the public’s trust by their elected officials. I intend to do all that I can to ensure that our people have the honest government they deserve.”
This turn of events must have shocked the good people of West Virginia and really, really ticked them off. Among his offenses, Loughry is accused of using a government vehicle and credit card on personal trips. He was living it up on the public dime. He also unlawfully converted to his own use a historically significant piece of furniture – a desk that belonged to famed architect Cass Gilbert. Loughry has also been charged with attempting to obstruct and influence testimonial evidence of a Supreme Court employee in an imminent grand jury investigation. His alleged corruption is long and deep and now very, very public.
Justice Loughry was arrested by FBI agents on Wednesday at his home. He was then transported to the federal courthouse in Charleston for processing and to schedule his arraignment. He was not expected to be detained pending his trial. That surprises me. I would think his bail would be revoked and he would be detained as a flight risk. “Public corruption is a top investigative priority for the FBI,” FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nick Boshears said. “It erodes public confidence and undermines the Rule of Law. We want the people we serve to know the FBI will hold those accountable who betray the public’s trust.” It’s a pity the FBI doesn’t hold itself accountable these days. Just sayin’.
This looks like a very bad guy and I’m glad he was busted. Loughry took office in 2012. He was selected to serve as Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court in April 2017, but later that year was replaced amid reports that he and another justice spent more than a million dollars of public funds. He has since been suspended without pay. He deserves far worse than that in my book.
Loughry is a registered Republican but is facing much more serious jail time than Democrats caught in similar circumstances. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but the law should be blind to politics and social status. All of them should face the same justice. I would say however, 395 years seems excessive on all this. I doubt that will be his sentence. There is no doubt he’s going to prison, but it will be significantly less than the maximum here.
House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-WV) released the following statement regarding the indictment of Supreme Justice Allen Loughry:
“I’m saddened and disappointed to read these very serious allegations of corruption by a member of our state’s highest court contained in today’s indictment. I am deeply troubled by these allegations and believe my fellow West Virginians are as well.
“Under the legal process in our nation and state, Justice Loughry will be afforded due process as the case against him is prosecuted. While he has been suspended from sitting on the court and is not receiving pay, I would reiterate my belief that it is in our state’s best interest for Justice Loughry to resign so we can begin the long process of restoring our citizens’ trust in their judicial system.
“Regardless of what course Justice Loughry may choose to take, the Legislature will continue its work to get to the bottom of what has occurred, to evaluate the evidence and assess how best to proceed to ensure that our judges and all public officials are held to the highest legal and ethical standards.”
Sharky Democrat House and Senate leaders say they are renewing their call to begin impeachment proceedings for Justice Allen Loughry. They smell Republican blood in the water and are going for it. “As we stated in our June 8th letter to the Governor, President Carmichael and Speaker Armstead, our citizens deserve to be protected against corruption- and the Legislature must stand strong against Justice Loughry’s abuse of power,” Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso (D-WV) stated in a press release.
“The announcement today of the federal indictment of Supreme Court Justice Loughry is not surprising,” House of Delegates Minority Leader Tim Miley (D-WV) added. “The Governor and Republican leadership must take immediate action – and I am hoping that perhaps today’s news will prompt them to finally initiate an impeachment proceeding. Continued delay reflects tacit indifference to his behavior.”
Regardless of political affiliation, no one is above the law. If Loughry is guilty, then he should be punished to the full extent of the law here. He should resign while these charges are worked out legally. He’s charged with 16 counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of witness tampering and three counts of making false statements to a federal agent. Even a state Supreme Court justice has to answer to the rule of law.