CHARLESTON — A federal jury returned a verdict on Friday, finding suspended West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry II guilty on 11 counts and not guilty on 10 counts. The jury couldn't reach a decision on one count.
The jury has been deliberating since late Wednesday after closing arguments were presented.
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart praised the jury and all involved with the trial at a press conference held after the verdict was returned.
"I couldn't be more proud of everybody's efforts here," Stuart said.
Stuart said the sentencing is now left up to the judge.
Sentencing is scheduled for January.
During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron McVey and Philip Wright argued that Loughry was not simply content with being a public servant, with McVey stating that Loughry wanted to "become its master."
"He abused his position, stole from the state, bullied others and flat-out lied," McVey said. "He's guilty of each and every county and we ask that you find him guilty."
McVey said since Loughry's election onto the court, he's gained power and became arrogant and with that, along came an "unbridled sense of entitlement," unlike anything the Supreme Court had previously experienced.
"This unbridled sense of entitlement led him to defraud others and attempt to bully and intimidate others," McVey said. "He lied to the FBI, which led him to these charges."
McVey noted that Loughry had previously stated that the records involved were a mess.
“These records aren’t a mess,” McVey said. “They show a scheme.”
McVey said the WEX records and Loughry’s phone records match up on the trips involved in the charges against him.
“These instances charged in his indictment are not during the week—these are on the weekend and on one, very late on a Thursday night,” McVey said. “Compare the records. I encourage you to do so.”
McVey also argued that Loughry attempted to create a false narrative and bullied Kim Ellis.
“She recorded [that meeting] because she didn’t trust him,” McVey said.
Wright said Loughry exercised bad judgment.
“The defense boiled down to ‘everyone is lying about me,’ but I ask you, of all the people who testified, who has the greatest incentive to lie?” Wright said.
Wright said the credibility of the witnesses is for the jury to decide and he encouraged them to go back and look at their testimony.
“Power corrupts and the defendant is a walking, talking example of that arrogance and petty greed. He defrauded the state, American University and the Pound Institute. He betrayed his own words. Find him guilty.”
John Carr, Loughry’s attorney, said the case is not about whether Loughry should continue to serve or be voted in again, but as to whether or not he is guilty on 22 federal counts.
“The government outlined their theory, but the evidence that you heard does not even fit with that theory.
“The times on the WEX records do not match up with the times on the receipts,” Carr said. “The government would have you believe that Loughry met with them and lied to them—it didn’t happen.”
Carr also argued that if Cass Gilbert desks were really special state treasures as McVey and Wright claimed they were, then they wouldn’t be sent to storage where excess furniture would go.
Carr said Loughry didn’t make false statements and that he was not trying to lie during meetings.
“The government must prove beyond a reasonable double,” Carr said. “Is Loughry guilty of these 22 federal crimes beyond reasonable doubt? The evidence does not support that.”
The trial began last week. The jury heard testimony from several witnesses, including retired Justice Thomas McHugh, Sara Thompson, former Justice Brent Benjamin, Jess Gundy, Paul Mendez, Arthur Angus, Jennifer Bundy and Steve Canterbury.
Loughry also testified at the trial.
In June, Loughry was indicted on a total of 25 federal charges, but three were dismissed prior to the start of the trial.
The 22 remaining counts involved witness tampering, lying to federal agents, mail fraud and wire fraud and involved Loughry’s use of a state vehicle and a gas card, as well as witness tampering involving Ellis and the Case Gilbert desk that was removed from the court and taken to his home, before being removed from Loughry’s home and taken to a warehouse last year.
Last year, Kennie Bass of WCHS-TV began investigating reports of the Supreme Court renovations. During interviews with Bass, Loughry blamed Canterbury for the expenses.
"Closing arguments are so so important, but it's important to remember they are not evidence," U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver told the jury at the start of the day.
In August, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to impeach Loughry, along with Justices Margaret Workman and Beth Walker and now retired Justice Robin Jean Davis. Loughry's impeachment trial is scheduled before the Senate in November.