He Was Chief Justice Of A State Supreme Court. He Just Reported To Jail

YouTube screenshot/WOWK 13 News

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Former West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Allen Loughry surrendered at a federal prison facility in South Carolina Friday, where he will serve a two-year sentence for crimes relating to a sweeping public corruption scandal.

A federal judge sentenced the disgraced ex-justice in February, following his conviction for wire fraud, mail fraud and lying to federal investigators.

In addition to criminal penalties, Loughry was disbarred from legal practice, agreed never to seek public office again and paid fines totaling $12,000.

Local press accounts of lavish renovations at the state Supreme Court set off an audit of the justice’s spending practices. That inquiry discovered that Loughry and another justice, Menis Ketchum, used state resources for personal purposes. A federal investigation followed, leading to a battery of criminal charges against Loughry and Ketchum.

Among other offenses, investigators discovered that Loughry collected compensation from a law school for travel expenses he had not incurred and removed a state-owned antique desk from a public facility to his private residence. The famed architect Cass Gilbert designed the desk, the estimated value of which is $40,000.

Loughry is the author of a lengthy history of political corruption in West Virginia called “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay For A Landslide.”

The spending scandal set off a constitutional crisis in West Virginia. Loughry and Ketchum left judicial service and were convicted of financial crimes in federal court. A third justice, Robin Jean Davis, resigned to avoid a prospective impeachment. The Daily Caller News Foundation identified evidence of a possible straw donation scheme to Davis’s 2012 re-election campaign, prompting an investigation from the West Virginia secretary of state.

The state Legislature impeached the remaining two justices, Margaret Workman and Beth Walker. (RELATED: Justice Neil Gorsuch To Drop Book On Constitution, Supreme Court Confirmation)

Justice Margaret Workman at the West Virginia Supreme Court in August 2018. (YouTube screenshot/WOWK 13 News)

Justice Margaret Workman is pictured at the West Virginia Supreme Court in August 2018. (YouTube screenshot/WOWK 13 News)

Walker subsequently contested the impeachment before a specially composed judicial panel. That panel issued an injunction barring an impeachment trial, concluding the Legislature exceeded its authority with respect to Walker’s removal.

Both Walker and Workman remain in office. GOP Gov. Jim Justice appointed Justices Tim Armstead, Evan Jenkins and John Hutchison to the seats vacated by Ketchum, Davis and Loughry.

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