Loughry questions if evidence was sufficient in 4th Circuit appeal, hires former state Solicitor General

By Chris Dickerson | Mar 28, 2019

RICHMOND, Va.  – Former state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry’s appeal questions whether there was sufficient evidence to support his February conviction on 10 federal counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and lying to federal agents.

Loughry’s attorneys filed a docketing statement March 14 with the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, where his appeal was filed March 26.

The issues raised in the docketing statement also question whether Loughry’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury was violated by jury bias, whether Loughry produced sufficient evidence of jury bias to warrant a hearing and whether Loughry was entitled to a presumption of prejudice and an evidentiary hearing.

Also, in addition to Charleston attorney John Carr, who has handled Loughry’s case alone so far, three new attorneys have joined his legal team for the 4th Circuit appeal. That trio includes former West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin, who now works for Hunton Andrews Kurth in Richmond. The others are Nicholas D. Stellakis of the firm’s Boston branch and Katy Boatman of the firm’s Houston branch.

Both Carr and Lin declined further comment about Loughry’s appeal.

Philip Wright and Gregory McVey of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of West Virginia are handling the government’s case against Loughry.

Loughry was sentenced to two years in prison Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court on 10 federal counts after being found guilty on 11 during his trial in the fall before Judge John Copenhaver.

Loughry was also ordered to pay fines and restitution in the amount of $12,273.53. He paid that on March 11, according to court records.

Loughry also will serve three years of supervised probation. He is supposed to self-report to prison by April 5. The prison where he’ll serve his time has been determined, but it isn’t being disclosed for security reasons.

In February, the state Judicial Hearing Board recommended the state Supreme Court follow an agreement signed by Loughry and the state Judicial Disciplinary Counsel. The agreement said Loughry would be disbarred and never seek public office in West Virginia again. Also, the JDC recommended censure, a $3,000 fine and payment of $5,871.12 for the cost of proceeding.

As part of the agreement, Loughry also did not admit guilt to any of the findings by the state panel. But, the agreement states that Loughry admitted there was enough evidence to prove the allegations of two charges of lying to the public, one charge of using a state computer at his home for personal use, four charges of using a state vehicle for personal travel (including trips to The Greenbrier to sell copies of his book “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay For A Landslide: The Sordid and Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia”) and one charge of being convicted on 10 federal felony counts in October.

"I am fully aware of the seriousness of this matter on me and my family," Loughry said moments before the 94-year-old Copenhaver sentenced him Feb. 13. "I do not wish to minimize or trivialize this. I just want to begin the long process of putting some of the pieces of my life back together, including getting a job and becoming a productive member of society."

"This situation has changed my life and the lives of my family forever."

Copenhaver said that was the first time he had heard regret from Loughry through the entire trial process.

"Since the beginning, except for the statement you just gave, I have not seen evidence of remorse," the judge said. "The Supreme Court will recover the trust and respect it rightly deserves."

The mail fraud conviction related to Loughry seeking reimbursement for a trip to a conference despite using a state vehicle and a state-issued gasoline purchasing card.

The wire fraud convictions were about Loughry using a state vehicle and state-issued gasoline purchasing card for personal travel. Some of those trips were for events where he signed copies of his book “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay For A Landslide,” Loughry’s book about West Virginia’s history of political corruption.

Loughry was removed as Chief Justice last February, and he was suspended in June shortly after the federal criminal charges were announced. He resigned in November after his conviction. Loughry and three other then-Justices were impeached in August. Only current Chief Justice Beth Walker faced an impeachment trial. She was cleared in October. The impeachment efforts then were found to be a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

“Corruption is a cancer that erodes the public’s confidence in the government and undermines the rule of law,” federal prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum. “As the Supreme Court noted long ago, ‘a democracy is effective only if the people have faith in those who govern, and that faith is bound to be shattered when high officials and their appointees engage in activities which arouse suspicions of malfeasance and corruption.’

“These concepts are particularly applicable when the malefactor is a judge. Here again, Loughry’s own words apply: ‘The overriding public interest in preserving the integrity of the judiciary demands that justices, judges, magistrates, and attorneys be accountable for their damaging behaviors.’”

Loughry's family maintains he is innocent in a letter published by his hometown newspaper.

In a letter published Feb. 25 on The Parsons Advocate newspaper’s website, the Loughry family says, “We stand firmly behind the innocence of our husband, our father, our child, our brother and our uncle … as he is not guilty of these crimes nor did he admit guilt.”

But, a Washington, D.C., political consultant says Loughry lacks humility and that he should have accepted responsibility for his actions.

David Browne wrote a letter to Copenhaver prior to Loughry’s Feb. 13 sentencing. Browne is the owner of David Browne Media, which has produced campaign advertisements for a host of West Virginia political candidates over the last decade.

At Loughry’s Feb. 13 sentencing, Copenhaver mentioned the letter he had received Feb. 11. Federal prosecutors didn’t mind having it admitted into the record, but Loughry and his attorney John Carr asked that it not be considered. Copenhaver admitted the letter, and it appeared in the case docket Feb. 27.

On March 1, Loughry’s Charleston home was listed for sale for $150,000. It apparently has sold, but the sale price isn’t available.

“This functional 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home is enveloped in light, open one story,” the description on Zillow says. “Hardwoods under carpet, large basement, 2 fireplaces, flat fenced front yard, large extensive back deck, heated one car garage.”

The Scenic Drive home is located off Greenbrier Street between the state Capitol and Yeager Airport. It is 1,840 square feet and was built in 1949. The listing says Loughry purchased the home in 2004 for $143,450.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Charleston Division United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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