On the same day that West Virginia’s current chief Supreme Court justice successfully beat back an impeachment attempt, her predecessor was found guilty by a federal jury of misusing state vehicles and credit cards, witness tampering and making false statements.
Now-suspended West Virginia Justice Allen Loughry II was found guilty Oct. 12 on 11 of 22 counts in a federal indictment made public in June. The guilty verdicts came on seven counts of wire fraud; two counts of making false statements to federal investigators; one count of mail fraud; and one count of witness tampering. Loughry was found not guilty on 10 other counts, while the jury deadlocked on one count of mail fraud stemming from allegations that Loughry misused a government car and credit card.
“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,” Mike Stuart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said in a statement on Oct. 12. “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. The system worked. Corruption was rooted out. Confidence is restored.”
A defense lawyer for Loughry, solo practitioner John Carr of Charleston, West Virginia, declined to comment on Wednesday.
Prosecutors accused Loughry, once the chief justice, of using a government vehicle for personal trips, then improperly seeking reimbursement for his travel expenses. They also accused him of removing a “historically significant” desk from a government building for use in his home office and for lying to federal investigators when asked about the travel reimbursements and the historic furniture.
The suspended justice also allegedly tried to persuade a court employee to give misleading testimony in a grand jury investigation. With respect to the furniture, prosecutors said Loughry misappropriated a desk designed by Cass Gilbert, an architect active in the late 1800s and early 1900s whose work included a number of state capitol buildings, including West Virginia’s.
Loughry has been suspended from the state high court without pay. In addition to the criminal case, he faces disciplinary proceedings brought by the West Virginia judicial commission, as well as an impeachment case that the state’s legislature launched in August.
He wasn’t the only state Supreme Court justice to face impeachment or other troubles in the wake of a local news investigation in 2017 that looked into high spending by the West Virginia high court. His conviction on Oct. 12 came the same day that the court’s current chief justice, Margaret Workman, beat back an attempt to impeach her, convincing the state Supreme Court—which heard Workman’s case with substitute justices—that the legislature followed shoddy procedures when it moved for her impeachment.