By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Many of us have heard bits and pieces about former State Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry, but it’s hard to find the story in its entirety in one location. Hopefully this article will achieve just that and serve as a highlight as to the back story to present day relating to the situation Loughry has found himself involved in.
Loughry is a native of Tucker County, graduating from TCHS in 1988. From there he continued his education at several different universities including earning his law degree from Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio where he graduated with the honor of Order of the Curia in 1998. He also holds a position as Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) from Washington College of Law, where he was one of the first three individuals to hold such an honor and was the only one from North America. Loughry completed several continuing education courses and received additional honors from all over the world, including the Washington College of Law Distinguished Alumnus Award and the 2014 Tuckineer Award. He held the position of law clerk for the Supreme Court of Appeals from 2003 until his election to the States Supreme Court in 2012. Loughry also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Charleston within the political science department and was the senior assistant attorney general.
In April 2017, Loughry was appointed to serve as Chief Justice of the WV Supreme Court. As the year progressed, Loughry as well as Justice Robin Davis, Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Menis Ketchum, and Justice Beth Walker were discovered to have spent well over $1,000,000 on renovations to their chambers such as a new office chair valued at $8,000 and floor rugs for $28,000. This resulted in his suspension and eventual resignation as Chief Justice. According to WV Metro News, items purchased included a sofa valued at $32,000, throw pillows for $1,700, and a wooden map for $7,500, all for Loughry’s office. In early June of 2018, an investigation uncovered enough evidence that the Judicial Ethics Committee charged him with thirty two counts of violation within the judicial ethics code. At that time, Loughry was then suspended, without pay, until further notice.
Two weeks later, the FBI arrested Loughry and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of WV announced a grand jury indictment on a total of twenty two counts: sixteen for frauds and swindles, two for wire fraud, one count for witness tampering, and three counts for lying to federal investigators. October 2 began Loughry’s federal criminal trial that lasted ten days. At the conclusion, he was convicted of seven counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of witness tampering, and two counts of lying to a federal investigator. The jury came to the consensus of not guilty on nine of the wire fraud counts, and two of the mail fraud charges. The jury tied on one count of wire fraud as well.
Governor Jim Justice called a meeting to discuss the impeachment of Loughry later in June. After much deliberation, it was decided to impeach Loughry along with two other justices and another individual in mid August. Their justification for doing such was based upon corruption, failure to perform duties, and incompetency to name a few. Another Supreme Court Judge had already plead guilty to wire fraud and resigned. Loughry took it upon himself to resign on November 12, 2018, just one day prior to a hearing called by Governor Justice to remove Loughry from office.
Loughry is scheduled to appear before the United States District Judge John Copenhaver on January 16, 2019 for sentencing. His sentence could add up to three hundred and ninety- five years in prison on the eleven felonies, including fraud, making false statements, and witness tampering. However, on October 26, Loughry filed a motion for a new trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston. He currently remains free on a personal recognizance bond pending his sentencing.