A West Virginia Supreme Court Justice who wrote a book all about political corruption was indicted yesterday on 22 federal charges, including fraud, setting off irony alarms everywhere.
Justice Allen H. Loughry II, a judge on the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals, published Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid And Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia in 2006. He was arrested on Wednesday after being charged with numerous counts of fraud, false statements, and witness tampering.
The federal grand jury charged Loughry with “numerous and serious federal crimes,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of West Virginia:
“A federal grand jury has charged a Justice on the state’s highest court with numerous and serious federal crimes,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “This is a solemn day for all West Virginians. On this day — West Virginia Day — the people of our great state deserve better. They have worked too hard and too long to tolerate misconduct that strikes at the heart of the public’s trust by their elected officials. I intend to do all that I can to ensure that our people have the honest government they deserve.”
The prosecution says Loughry used a government vehicle and credit card on personal trips, then submitted mileage claims for reimbursement. He also used a “historically significant piece of furniture” for his personal home and attempted to obstruct testimonial evidence of a Supreme Court employee.
If convicted on all charges, Loughry could get up to 395 years in federal prison.
The 22-count Indictment charges Loughry with sixteen counts of mail fraud (Counts 2, 3, 4-17), which carry a penalty of up to 20 years for each count; two counts of wire fraud (Counts 1 and 18), which carry a penalty of up to 20 years for each count; three counts of making false statements to a federal agent (Counts 19-21), which carry a penalty of up to 5 years for each count; and one count of witness tampering (Count 22), which carries a penalty of up to 20 years. If convicted on all counts in the Indictment, Loughry faces a possible sentence of up to 395 years in prison, a fine of $5.5 million, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years.
It’s possible that the prosecutors bring the charges as is, and that he’s convicted as the sole defendant in the case, but the government is pursuing other potential angles as well. It doesn’t seem like they are entirely convinced that Loughry is the only corrupt individual on that particular court.
“For the past several weeks, public officials across West Virginia have been quick to condemn Justice Loughry, perhaps with the hope that the crisis in public confidence with the Supreme Court could be expediently resolved by lodging all culpability on just one person — Justice Loughry,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “That may or may not, however, be the case. Our work continues on many fronts, including additional areas of corruption. I urge public officials and the public to respect this process and allow the process to play out.”
More power to them. If there’s corruption to uncover, let’s hope they find it. At least it’s being rooted out somewhere in the country.
Incidentally, Loughry also wrote a 3-2 majority ruling last year saying that violence against LGBTQ citizens didn’t fall under the state’s hate crime laws. So if you had any sympathy for him… don’t.