Loughry agrees to panel’s findings
WAYNE — Allen Loughry, the former West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals chief justice turned convicted felon, has agreed to surrender his law license and never again run for public office in the state.
Without admitting guilt, Loughry entered into an agreement with the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission admitting the commission has clear and convincing evidence to discipline him on eight of the 32 charges against him. The agreement and evidence were submitted to Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Darrell Pratt, vice chairman of the Judicial Hearing Board, on Wednesday morning in the Wayne County Courthouse. Pratt will present the agreement to the full hearing board before a final decision is made.
Along with disbarment and never running for office again, the commission is recommending Loughry be sanctioned $3,000 plus court costs, which are over $5,000. The disciplinary actions are the harshest the board can impose since
Loughry already has resigned from his position with the court.
Taking the stand, Loughry testified that he agreed the commission had clear and convincing evidence against him and he accepted the punishment.
Loughry, author of a book chronicling political corruption in West Virginia, was sentenced last week to 24 months in federal prison on 10 federal charges, including mail fraud and wire fraud.
U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver also placed Loughry on three years’ supervisory release, fined him $10,000 and ordered him to pay $1,273 in restitution.
Loughry, who was elected to the high court in 2012 and resigned as a justice last November, was convicted Oct. 12, 2018, on charges stemming from misuse of state vehicles and credit cards for personal travel; for lying to federal investigators about that travel, as well as about having a state-owned antique desk in his home; and for defrauding a legal institute by accepting a travel reimbursement when he had used a state vehicle for the trip.
The Judicial Investigation Commission charges agreed to Wednesday relate to lying to the public in statements made to WCHS-TV reporter Kennie Bass, the use of state-owned computers in his home, using state-owned vehicles to promote his book, and his federal conviction. The other charges will be dismissed.
During the hearing, commission counsel Teresa Tarr said the allegations of lying were the most concerning.
“We subscribe to the theory that the truth will set you free/′ Tarr said. “People come into court every day, they are placed under oath and they are told to tell the truth. They believe that if they tell the truth, that ultimately their side will prevail. We can really expect no less of our lawyers and our judges. Former Justice Loughry was the type of individual that expected people as the head of the whole judiciary to tell him the truth... But he couldn’t do the same.”
Following the hearing, Tarr said the past year has been a long one, but she hopes the agreement can begin to restore the public’s trust in the judicial system.
Loughry is to report to his assigned federal prison April 5. He declined comment for this story.
Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.