Suspended West Virginia justice is convicted for false statements, misuse of state vehicles

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Justice Allen Loughry

Suspended Justice Allen Loughry was convicted after more than two days of deliberations. Photo from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

A suspended justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals was convicted Friday on 11 of 22 counts in a federal trial in the state capital of Charleston.

Suspended Justice Allen Loughry was convicted after more than two days of deliberations, report the Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia Metro News and the Wheeling News-Register.

Most of the counts on which he was convicted—seven wire fraud counts—accused Loughry of using a state vehicle and credit cards for personal travel.

He was also convicted on two counts of making false statements. One count accused him of lying about his use of the vehicles and credit cards. The second accused him of lying about whether he knew the desk he took from the court to his home was a Cass Gilbert desk, named for the famous architect whose firm supplied desks to the state in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

He was also found guilty of witness tampering for trying to influence a court administrator’s testimony about pricey office renovations by planting false facts about prior conversations.

He was found guilty of mail fraud for accepting about $400 in reimbursement from the Pound Civil Justice Institute for travel expenses when he had used a state-owned vehicle to drive to the Baltimore event.

During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey told jurors that Loughry had been elected to the state’s top court in 2012.

“With that power came an arrogance, came an unbridled sense of entitlement, the likes of which the court had never seen,” McVey said.

Loughry’s impeachment trial in the state senate was scheduled to begin Nov. 13. Loughry was impeached in August along with the three other remaining justices on West Virginia’s top court. A fifth justice, Menis Ketchum, had resigned ahead of the impeachment vote and pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

One justice, Beth Walker, was acquitted in an impeachment trial on a single charge of failing to establish polices for the use of state resources. Another, Chief Justice Margaret Workman, prevailed Thursday in a lawsuit seeking to block her impeachment trial. She was accused of failing to establish oversight policies, along with authorizing payments to senior status judges above amounts allowed by law.

Acting with stand-in justices, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled Workman’s impeachment prosecution violated separation of powers because the charges involve issues overseen by the judiciary. The court also said the state’s House of Delegates violated due process when it approved the impeachment resolution because it failed to set out formal findings of fact and failed to formally approve the resolution.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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