West Virginia’s Highest Court Shattered By Corruption Indictment

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry, author of a wide-ranging book on state political corruption, was served with a 22-count federal indictment Wednesday for fraud, false statements, and witness tampering.

The indictment is the first in a potentially far-reaching prosecution of corruption on West Virginia’s high court.

“It’s a solemn day for West Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said. “The West Virginia Supreme Court should be and must be above reproach, even above the slightest appearance of impropriety.”

Loughry was elected to a 12-year term on the state supreme court in 2012. He was chosen as chief justice of the five-member panel in January 2017.

The indictment alleges that Loughry regularly used state resources for personal reasons, then sought reimbursement for the expenses. For example, the justice traveled to an event at American University’s Washington College of Law in July 2013 in a state car, and used a state credit card to purchase gasoline. American University subsequently reimbursed Loughry personally for travel expenses.

Loughry gave remarks about honesty and integrity in government during his visit to the law school, according to the indictment. (RELATED: New Evidence Of Illegal Campaign Donations To West Virginia Judge Emerges)

Prosecutors also say the justice unlawfully removed a leather couch and antique desk from his chambers in the state supreme court to his personal residence. The couch and desk, selected by the renown architect Cass Gilbert, was removed from his chambers on a public holiday by a state-contracted moving company.

He later allegedly lied to his colleagues when confronted about his use of West Virginia resources, and coached a court employee to give false answers to federal investigators.

West Virginia’s Judicial Investigation Commission cited Loughry for 32 alleged violations of the state ethics code on June 8. He was subsequently suspended from his official duties on the state supreme court.

The details of the complaint largely mirror Wednesday’s indictment, alleging the justice pervasively lied to colleagues, investigators, and the press while abusing state resources.

Local media in West Virginia has reported extensively on other resource abuses on the state high court, raising the prospect of further indictments.

If convicted on all criminal counts, Loughry faces almost 400 years in prison and millions in fines.

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