“Our long-term investigation into corruption of West Virginia’s highest court is now concluded,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Absent new information or new allegations of impropriety or illegality, based on the information we have investigated and reviewed, we are hopeful that the period of uncertainty and taint of West Virginian’s highest court is over.
This does not mean there will not be another investigation regarding other issues at some point in the future, but, for now, we are finished with our work. Although necessary on behalf of the people of West Virginia and in defense of the rule of law, the indictment and conviction of former Chief Justice Allen Loughry and the Information and conviction of former Justice Menis Ketchum brought me no personal pleasure. Rather, my satisfaction is that my office was able to play a significant role in restoring the confidence of the people of West Virginia in the West Virginia Supreme Court.
I have great sympathy for the families involved in this matter, but I have said many times, this office takes the issue of public corruption and abuse of the public trust incredibly seriously. There is no such thing as a little bit of public corruption. I want to thank the FBI, the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division for their work in conducting the investigations and Assistant United States Attorneys Phil Wright and Greg McVey and former Assistant United States Attorney Anna Forbes their remarkable work in the prosecutions.”
Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry II was convicted by a federal jury in October 2018 of one count of mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, and two counts of lying to the FBI. He was sentenced last month to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to the State of West Virginia and the Pound Civil Justice Institute. Loughry will report to prison on April 5, 2019. Loughry’s convictions resulted from fraudulent activity while he was a sitting Justice on the Supreme Court. The mail fraud conviction stemmed from his defrauding the Pound Civil Justice Institute of approximately $400 in the summer of 2014, when he claimed mileage to attend a conference in Baltimore, Maryland, as if he had driven his own personal vehicle when in fact he drove a Supreme Court vehicle.
The seven wire fraud convictions related to Loughry’s using a government fuel card to buy gasoline for travel that was not official business. Two of those wire fraud convictions involved purchases of gasoline by Loughry late at night on a holiday or weekend, not long after he had already filled up the Supreme Court’s vehicle with gasoline upon returning from a trip. The remaining five convictions for wire fraud involved purchases of gasoline with a government fuel card and travel by Loughry in a Supreme Court vehicle to attend book-signing events at The Greenbrier Resort, for the book Loughry authored in 2006 about public corruption in West Virginia.
Loughry’s two convictions for lying to the FBI resulted from false answers he gave during an interview on March 2, 2018, by a Special Agent of the FBI. During that interview, Loughry claimed he never used a state vehicle for personal use and that he did not know that a desk he had in his home was a “Cass Gilbert desk” or even a desk anyone had ever claimed to be a Cass Gilbert desk.
Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum II pled guilty to wire fraud in August 2018 and was sentenced earlier this month to three years of probation. He admitted to repeated personal use of a State of West Virginia vehicle and State fuel credit card over the course of 2011 through 2014 in connection with his travel from his home in Huntington, West Virginia to and from a private golf club in western Virginia.
The roundtrip mileage for each of these golf outings was approximately 400 miles and cost the taxpayers of West Virginia approximately $220 per trip. In particular, on August 6, 2014, he traveled to the private golf club in a State vehicle, and returned to his home on August 9, 2014. During the return trip to Huntington, Ketchum used a State fuel card to purchase gasoline in Princeton, West Virginia, causing an interstate wire communication.