The man who just recently led the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has now turned himself over to federal corrections authorities following a shocking corruption scandal.
Former Chief Justice Allen Loughry’s stint behind bars stems directly from his conviction on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and lying to federal investigators. He will serve his two-year sentence at a federal prison in South Carolina.
Corrupt chief justice
The Daily Caller reported that Loughry was found guilty of the various corruption charges in federal court this past February. In addition to the prison sentence, Loughry was also disbarred, ordered to pay fines totaling $12,000, and prohibited from ever running for public office again.
The scandal that resulted in the judge doing time in federal prison began when local media started looking into what appeared to be extravagant spending of taxpayer money by the judge, including costly renovations to his state Supreme Court office.
A subsequent investigation determined that Loughry, as well as other justices on that court, were using state resources for personal purposes, including an instance in which Loughry appropriated an expensive state-owned antique desk for use in his own home. Loughry was also accused of seeking reimbursement from a law school for travel expenses that he never incurred.
Ironically, Loughry previously wrote a book documenting the history of political corruption in the state of West Virginia titled Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay For A Landslide.
It is worth noting that Loughry wasn’t the only official ensnared in the corruption scandal. Another justice on the court, Menis Ketchum, was also convicted in federal court of various financial crimes.
A third justice, Robin Jean Davis, was investigated for possible campaign finance violations in the 2012 election, but resigned prior to an impeachment effort by the state legislature.
The legislature ultimately attempted to impeach all five sitting justices on the state’s high court. However, the impeachment effort against Justices Beth Walker and Margaret Workman was seen by some as a bridge too far and was contested.
Walker appealed the impeachment to a special judicial panel, which ruled in her favor and issued an injunction against the removal effort and further concluded that the legislature exceeded its authority in removing all of the judges.
Thus, Walker and Workman remain seated on the high bench. They are now joined by three new appointees named by Republican Gov. Jim Justice: Tim Armstead, John Hutchinson, and Evan Jenkins, who are filling the vacancies left by Davis, Ketchum, and Loughry.
These state Supreme Court justices abused the perks of their position — not to mention the taxpayers who provide them — and they are now rightly being held accountable.