It ain’t over ’til it’s over – and, believe it or not, it’s over.
The federal investigation of possible wrongdoing by our state Supreme Court justices, which began more than two years ago, finally is over. Unless, of course, it starts up again, which is also a possibility.
“Our long-term investigation into corruption of West Virginia’s highest court is now concluded,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart announced last week. “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.”
We’re hopeful, too. Everyone in West Virginia is hopeful. Nobody likes “uncertainty and taint.” Gov. Jim Justice spoke for us all late last year when he deplored the traumatic effects of the ongoing drama.
“What I hate about it more than anything is it puts a national eye on West Virginia that’s not good,” the governor lamented. “[I]t has hurt West Virginia. And every day it hurts us until it’s over.”
Still, U.S. Attorney Stuart left the door open for resumption of the investigation with that “absent new information or new allegations” proviso, which he elaborated on in his next sentence.
“This does not mean there will not be another investigation regarding other issues at some point in the future,” Stuart continued, “but, for now, we are finished with our work.” That work, he noted, led to “the indictment and conviction of former Chief Justice Allen Loughry and the Information and conviction of former Justice Menis Ketchum,” both of which results he described as “necessary on behalf of the people of West Virginia and in defense of the rule of law.”
Loughry was sentenced to two years in prison, Ketchum to three years’ probation.
We agree with Stuart that justice needed to be done. We also are glad that the process is over, and hope it doesn’t start up again – unless it’s necessary.