CHARLESTON – The unsealed federal indictment against state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry includes details of what federal agents learned during their investigation.
Loughry was indicted June 20 on 22 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, making false statements to federal agents and witness tampering.
“The fraudulent conduct by … Loughry consisted of a scheme to defraud the State of West Virginia and others in order to obtain money and property through false pretenses, representations and promises,” the 31-page indictment states. “The scheme to defraud ran from approximately June 2013 through at least March 2, 2018, in Charleston, West Virginia, and elsewhere. To execute the scheme … Loughry, acting with an intent to defraud, misused and abused his position, power and authority as a Justice of the Supreme Court to commit the following acts.”
In summarizing the acts, the indictment lists the following:
* He falsely and fraudulently claimed mileage for trips on which he drove a Supreme Court vehicle and used a government credit card for gasoline;
* He used government vehicles and government credit cards for personal use under the false pretense that he was using the vehicles for official business, and lied to other Justices of the Supreme Court about his vehicle usage;
* He obtained under false pretenses, and unlawfully converted to his own personal use, a valuable and historic desk that belonged to the Supreme Court and which he took to his residence for a “home office,” and
* He attempted to conceal his fraudulent conduct by lying about his actions to government investigators and others, attempting to deflect attention away from himself by accusing others of malfeasance, and engaging in other fraudulent conduct.
“Furthermore, in October 2017, after the news media inquired about the costs associated with renovating and refurbishing his office at the Supreme Court … Loughry attempted to corruptly influence testimonial evidence of a Supreme Court employee in an imminent federal grand jury investigation into excessive and fraudulent expenditures by the Supreme Court,” it states.
The indictment expands on the charges. It says Loughry defrauded American University in Washington, D.C., by claiming mileage for a trip on which he used a Supreme Court vehicle and accepted reimbursement from his alma mater for the mileage.
It says Loughry was invited to a dinner in October 2013 where he spoke and was given a Distinguished Alumnus Award by the school. He told the school in an email that he was planning to drive to the event and that Mapquest showed the trip to be 356 miles. He drove a 2012 Buick LaCross to D.C. for the event, where he “spoke to the audience about honesty and integrity in government.”
Loughry and his family spent two nights at a D.C. hotel, visiting a museum and amusement park as well. He used a government credit card to buy gasoline for the car, and he paid for two nights at the hotel with a personal credit card.
“Loughry never disclosed to American University that he had traveled to and from Washington, D.C., in one of the Supreme Court’s vehicles and that he used a government credit card to pay for gasoline,” the indictment states. “American University sent a reimbursement check via the mail … The check was for $496.18, which included $200.58 for mileage for 355 miles and $295.60 for one night in the hotel … Loughry deposited the check into his personal account on Nov. 15, 2013.”
The indictment details another similar 2014 trip to Balitmore when Loughry spoke at a Pound Civil Justice Institute event. He drove a state vehicle to that event, and the Pound Institute reimbursed him $488.60 for mileage and parking expenses.
It also details times Loughry drove a state vehicle for personal use, using a government credit card to purchase gasoline “under the false pretense that he would and did use the vehicle for official business. During this time, defendant Loughry had his own sets of keys for the Buick LaCross and the Buick Lucerne.”
The indictment says he made trips to his native Tucker County, where he grew up, where his parents lives and where he owns property. It also says he made trips to The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs to sign copies of his book “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide” about West Virginia’s history of political corruption.
It also says Loughry defrauded the state by obtaining an antique Cass Gilbert desk for personal use at his home.
“He arranged for a state-contracted moving company to move the Cass Gilbert desk to his home on a state holiday, June 20, 2013, when other Supreme Court employees were not working,” the indictment states. “The private moving company had been scheduled only to move furniture from the Supreme Court to a warehouse in another part of Charleston …
“Loughry did not inform the other Justices or any Supreme Court employee that he planned to take the Cass Gilbert desk. Nor did he tell them that he had in fact taken a Cass Gilbert desk to his home.”
It says the state paid the moving company $836 for moving the desk and a leather couch to Loughry’s home.
The indictment also details Loughry’s attempts to conceal his scheme to defraud, such as when a fellow Supreme Court Justice Robin Jean Davis wrote a memo to former Administrative Director Steve Canterbury in August 2016 questioning instances when Loughry had reserved state vehicles. Loughry responded with his own memo questioning vehicle use by other justices.
“I unhesitatingly assure each of you that on the dates mentioned in (Davis’) various memoranda to (Canterbury), I was acting in my capacity as a Justice of this Court in utilizing a Court vehicle,” Loughry wrote. The indictment says that statement was not true.
The indictment says Loughry stopped using the court’s vehicle reservation system after the memo exchanges even though the court didn’t adopt a formal written policy.
“Nonetheless, he continued to use Supreme Court vehicles and the government gasoline credit cards,” the indictment states. “At least one of those instances involved his use of the government credit card for personal use.” It says he returned the sets of keys to the cards in November 2017.
The indictment also says Loughry “continued the pattern of deceit and misdirection” after media reports surfaced in November 2017 about the costs of renovations and refurbishing of the state Supreme Court offices, saying he misrepresented to members of the media his role in the project. It says he also “corruptly attempt(ed) to influence a Supreme Court employee’s potential future testimony in an imminent federal grand jury investigation about extraordinary spending by the Supreme Court.”
It also details the return of the leather couch from Loughry’s home to the state Supreme Court on Nov. 27, 2017, a day after a media report questioned its whereabouts.
“Three days after having the leather couch removed from his home and returned to a Supreme court warehouse … Loughry arranged to have Supreme Court employees return to his home to remove the Cass Gilbert desk that had been in his home for more than four years,” the indictment states.
It says Loughry falsely told Supreme Court employees and the media through a spokesperson that the Supreme Court had a longstanding practice of affording justices the opportunity to have a home office furnished with computers and furniture to suit their needs.
“The Supreme Court, however, had no oral or written policy that would have allowed … Loughry to establish a home office with furniture from the Supreme Court,” the indictment states. “None of the other justices had taken desks or couches from the Supreme Court to their homes. Indeed, until late-November 2017, the other justices and the Supreme Court employee who was responsible for managing the Supreme Court’s facilities and equipment did not know that defendant Loughry had a Cass Gilbert desk in his home.”
The indictment says Loughry met with an FBI Special Agent and a representative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Nov. 20, 2017, “to report his own concerns about spending by other justices of the Supreme Court and (Canterbury) that he believed was unauthorized or otherwise inappropriate.”
As part of the grand jury investigation into the matter, an FBI Special Agent and others interviewed Loughry on March 2 with his attorney present.
“During the interview … Loughry denied he had ever used a government vehicle for personal use,” the indictment states. “In addition … Loughry said that the desk taken from the Supreme Court and moved to his home was moved in December 2012 when he was a law clerk, not a justice, and that he had no individual authority to direct anyone to move the desk to his home, and that the desk was one he had used for approximately 10 years as a law clerk. The statement was false in that the movement of the desk to his home occurred in June 2013 at his insistence, not December 2012 under someone else’s direction and authority.
“Also during the interview … Loughry stated he had not known the desk taken from the Supreme Court and placed in his home was a Cass Gilbert desk or even a desk described as a Cass Gilbert desk.
“That statement was false, and defendant Loughry knew it was false at the time he made it.”
In the individually listed counts of the indictment, excerpts from Loughry’s March 2 interview with the FBI are included.
He was asked about state vehicle use.
“Have you ever used a state vehicle for any purpose other than business use?” the special agent asked Loughry.
“For personal use, no,” Loughry replied. “Now, I have taken a vehicle, say for example, because I want to be – I don’t want to come back and say well, you know, clarify this. So let’s say I’ve had multiple meetings in Tucker County for various reasons. My parents live in Tucker County, so I have gone there, spent the night there, not charged the state for a hotel or anything like that, and returned.”
He was asked about the Cass Gilbert desk.
“How did it – after that conversation with Canterbury, what took place in order for that desk, I’ll just ask you, did you initiate the desk getting to your home or did Canterbury initiate the desk?” the agent asked.
“No, Mr. Canterbury did, and there are receipts from that – it was – it’s my recollection that it went to my home on December 21st of 2012 while I was still a law clerk at the court. I had no individual authority to direct anybody to do anything like that.
“So, the invoice – so there are invoices reflecting this – so the court paid for and sent a desk to my home. This desk was, you know, it keeps being referred to as the Cass Gilbert desk, and all this, I’m still not certain about all of that and the history and everything around the desk, because I’ve heard various things. But this was the desk I was using for approximately 10 years as a law clerk.
“So my office was on the fourth floor of the Capitol, and when I won, I would be moving to the third floor of the Capitol and the chambers. And somebody else was moving into my office and they would bring all of their own furniture and their other things, so I was asked by Mr. Canterbury if I wanted a home office, it was explained in great detail this is available to all justices, it happened all over the country, I agreed, the court sent a desk to my home.”
The agent asked more about a search for the Cass Gilbert desk at the court for Justice Beth Walker to use in her office after she was elected in 2016.
“A search being conducted at the court. No, I don’t recall any search being conducted for a Cass Gilbert desk,” Loughry responded.
“So you didn’t know any of the court staff was trying to find a desk you had at your house?”
“No, the court sent that desk to my house.”
“But I will – I recall a conversation where I mentioned that there was another desk, and it was in one of my law clerk’s offices – but no. I mean the court – the court sent that desk to my house.”
“But you don’t remember any instance where Justice Walker was looking for one of these specific desks, the Cass Gilbert desk, and they couldn’t find it. Do you remember anything like that? They could not find one of those desks? For her?”
“One of the desks is – at all times, the one desk, apparently, is missing, or something. And I think I’ve heard where it may be now. But there was never – I never hid the fact that a desk was at my house, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Did you one, know that a Cass Gilbert desk?”
“No, not at – and I don’t think it is a Cass Gilbert desk.”
“I understand. At what point did you learn that it was claimed that that was a Cass Gilbert desk?”
“Um, in the newspaper.”
“Recently? In the last six, seven months?”
“When it was moved to your house when you were using it as a law clerk or in your home office, you did not know that it was – that anybody had claimed it was a Cass Gilbert desk?”
“No, it was a desk.”
The indictment says Loughry “was well aware” that the desk was a Cass Gilbert desk “with historical significance and value.”
It also details his attempt to tamper with a witness in the federal investigation during an Oct. 19, 2017, discussion..
“Having reason to believe a federal grand jury investigation into excessive spending by the Supreme Court was likely to be instituted in the near future, (Loughry) attempted to coach a Surpeme Court employee by planting false facts about a purported prior conversation between the employee and defendant Loughry that concerned the renovation costs of defendant Loughry’s judicial office – a conversation that did not, in fact, occur – and did so act with the intent to dishonestly influence the evidence the employee might give to federal law enforcement officers and any future testimony by the employee before the federal grand jury.”