A federal grand jury handed up a new indictment against West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry Tuesday, charging him with obstruction of justice.
Loughry is charged with 16 counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, three counts of making false statements to a federal agent and one count of witness tampering, along with the new charge in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.
U.S. Magistrate Dwane Tinsley set Loughry's arraignment for the new indictment for 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 25.
Currently, Loughry’s trial is set to begin on Aug. 28. He is out of jail on bond while his case proceeds through the courts.
If Loughry, 47, is convicted on all the charges against him, he faces a maximum 405 years in prison, and fines of up to $5.75 million.
The indictment still includes accusations that Loughry lied to FBI investigators and committed fraud by accepting travel reimbursement for two events to which he went in state-owned vehicles and did not incur personal expenses.
In the new charge, Loughry is accused of attempting to impede in the federal grand jury investigation into improper use of state resources, specifically regarding a “Cass Gilbert” desk and a state-owned couch that federal investigators said were at his home for more than four years.
In November 2017, Loughry had the desk and the couch, which had belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Joe Albright, removed from his home, according to a report from the Gazette-Mail.
In the indictment, Loughry is alleged to have attempted to deflect attention away from his own misconduct by blaming others for improperly using Supreme Court funds and property.
He also is accused of creating a false narrative about when the Cass Gilbert desk was moved into his home and under whose direction it was moved.
The indictment further alleges that Loughry used invoices not related to the transport of the couch and the desk to his home in 2013 in order to support the false narrative he created, which he repeated to an FBI special agent during an interview in March.
Loughry also relayed that false narrative to potential grand jury witnesses, at least one of whom testified before the jurors on May 24, according to the indictment.
Loughry is accused of lying to an FBI agent about whether he knew the desk was a Cass Gilbert desk. The desk is one of five that are original to the Supreme Court facility when it opened in 1932.
In the previous indictment, Loughry also was accused of lying about when the desk was moved to his home and whether it was moved from the Capitol to his home by his request.
“[I]t’s my recollection that it went to my home on December 21, 2012, while I was still a law clerk at the court,” Loughry is quoted as telling an FBI agent during the interview in March. “I had no individual authority to direct anybody to do anything like that.”
Loughry has been suspended from the bench without pay since June 8, two days after the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission filed a statement of charges against him alleging that he violated the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct by misusing state-owned resources and lying to lawmakers, the news media and the public about his use of those resources, including furniture, cars and money for renovations to his office.
Loughry and the three remaining Supreme Court justices — Margaret Workman, Robin Davis and Beth Walker — are the subject of an investigation into possible impeachment by the West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee, which will resume its work Thursday.
Justice Menis Ketchum notified Gov. Jim Justice of his resignation on July 11, one day before the committee began reviewing evidence. Ketchum’s resignation is effective July 27, and the resignation means he will not be the subject of the committee’s investigation and cannot be impeached.
During testimony before the committee last week, Fletcher Adkins, former assistant administrator for the Supreme Court, said Loughry had furniture moved from his office at the Capitol on June 20, 2013.
Adkins said records showed Loughry and workers from a state-contracted moving company made a trip from the Capitol to Loughry’s home in Charleston before returning to the Capitol and meeting Adkins at a warehouse.
Adkins said he didn’t know why Loughry and the movers went to Loughry’s home. Adkins also told committee members he didn’t recall anything being amiss that day and that he didn’t recall whether he saw the Cass Gilbert desk or heard anyone mention it.
The Judicial Investigation Commission’s proceedings against Loughry were put on hold earlier this month when Loughry’s attorney, John Carr, filed a motion to delay those proceedings until the federal case has been resolved. The commission’s Judicial Hearing Board approved the motion.
When the House Judiciary Committee reconvenes Thursday, members will continue to review evidence and question witnesses about possible impeachable offenses that might have been committed by the justices.
If the committee members find any of the four remaining justices committed such an offense, they may draft articles of impeachment against the relevant justice or justices.
If a majority of members in the full House of Delegates approves the articles, they will then go to the Senate for consideration.
It takes two-thirds of the Senate, or 23 senators, to approve the articles for the process to turn into an impeachment trial conducted by the Senate.
If a public official is found to have committed an impeachable offense, that official is removed from office and banned from ever seeking public office again.
U.S. Magistrate Dwane Tinsley set Loughry's arraignment for 2 p.m. Monday, July 25.