18:00, June 21 57 0 abajournal.com

2018-06-21 18:00:15
State supreme court justice accused of fraud, lying to federal agents in 22-count indictment

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry was arrested Wednesday after he was indicted on federal charges that stem from his alleged personal use of government property, including a historically significant desk.

Loughry faces a 22-count indictment that includes charges of fraud, lying to federal agents and trying to influence the grand jury testimony of a court employee, according to a press release and stories by the Associated Press, WVNews, the Charleston Gazette-Mail and NPR. He was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond on Wednesday. The maximum sentence is 395 years in prison.

Loughry is accused of using a government vehicle and credit card to buy gas on personal trips, including travel to promote his book on political corruption. He is also charged with keeping state property at his home in Charleston—more specifically, a desk approved for the supreme court chambers by architect Cass Gilbert when court offices were dedicated in 1932. And he is accused of lying about his involvement in pricey renovations at the supreme court.

Prosecutors say that on at least two of the trips in which Loughry used a government vehicle and had mileage expenses paid by the government, he was also reimbursed for mileage by two sponsoring organizations: American University and the Pound Civil Justice Institute.

The investigation began when Loughry reported concerns about supreme court spending to federal investigators. U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart indicated in a press conference that the investigation may not be over, according to the coverage by the Gazette-Mail.

“I’m sure there are a whole lot of people that would like Justice Loughry to be indicted and go down in a great ball of flames and, somehow, the rest of the court escapes uncharged,” Stuart said. “I don’t know whether there will be charges in the future, but I can tell you that we’re interested in public corruption. … We’ll let the facts lead us to where the facts lead us.”

Loughry was suspended from the court June 8 after the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission accused him of ethics misconduct that included lying about $3.2 million in court renovations. According to the Gazette-Mail, the renovation included a $32,000 office couch and a West Virginia county map embedded in the floor of his office.

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