CHARLESTON. — West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry, already facing 22 federal charges, has now been hit with another.
The same grand jury that returned the original indictment against Loughry returned a superseding indictment, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart announced Tuesday.
The new indictment adds an obstruction of justice count on top of the existing wire and mail fraud, false statements and witness tampering offenses.
In all, the charges mean Loughry faces up to 405 years in jail.
“It’s very disappointing that a former Chief Justice of the highest court in the State of West Virginia would engage in such egregious conduct,” Stuart said. “Obstruction of justice is one of the most serious of offenses and for that conduct to be conducted by a Supreme Court justice is, frankly, just plain stupefying.”
It’s another charge that alleges Loughry — the author of “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid And Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia” — lied to federal investigators.
The new count charges that between Dec. 4, 2017, and May 24, 2018, Loughry “knowingly and corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct, and impede the due administration of justice — a pending federal grand jury investigation the existence of which Loughry was well aware,” according to the superseding indictment.
The superseding indictment alleges that Loughry obstructed justice by deflecting attention away from his own misconduct and blaming others for improperly using Supreme Court funds and property; creating a false narrative about when a Cass Gilbert desk was moved to his home and under whose direction; using invoices not related to the transfer of a leather couch and the Cass Gilbert desk to his home in 2013 to buttress the false narrative he created, and repeating the false narrative to a special agent of the FBI in an interview on March 2, 2018.
Impeachment proceedings touched off by Loughry begin again Thursday July 19 in the House of Delegates. The Legislature is considering impeachment against the whole court — with the exception of Justice Menis Ketchum, who resigned last week — because of a series of controversies, most involving Loughry.
West Virginia has reached this point after months of controversy involving the Supreme Court.
Scandals came to a head this summer when Loughry was first charged by the state Judicial Investigations Commission and then by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In each case, Loughry was accused not only of misusing state resources but, worse, lying about the acts to investigators.
He has been suspended from the Supreme Court.
It all started last September with news reports about lavish renovations of justices’ chambers: The $32,000 couch and $7,500 wooden inlaid floor in Justice Loughry’s office, a $500,000 office renovation and $28,000 rugs in Justice Robin Davis’s office, and a $130,000 upgrade of Justice Beth Walker’s chambers.
Loughry denied guiding his own renovations and matters got worse.
Controversy erupted over Loughry’s possession at his home of an antique desk associated with famed architect Cass Gilbert from when the state Capitol was first built. He took it home in 2012 while he was still a law clerk.
Then another couch added fuel to the fire. Loughry was accused of taking home a leather couch that belonged to Justice Joseph Albright.
Those allegations kicked off a series of investigations by the Legislative auditor.
Loughry was officially indicated June 19.
Brad McElhinny is the statewide correspondent for WVMetroNews.com. Follow him @BradMcElhinny or contact him at email@example.com.