Loughry’s Motion for New Trial Dismissed
Former Justice also has witness tampering conviction dropped
CHARLESTON — A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the second of two appeals by former West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justice Allen Loughry for acquittal and a new trial in an 11-count conviction but dropped one of the charges.
Judge John Copenhaver handed down the memorandum opinion and order Friday. Loughry was seeking an acquittal from Copenhaver on all counts, or a completely new trial.
Loughry was convicted Oct. 12 of 11 counts including mail fraud, wire fraud, witness tampering and making false statements to investigators. He is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 18.
Of the 11 convictions, Copenhaver did acquit Loughry of witness tampering. Kim Ellis, director of administrative services for the high court testified during Loughry’s trial that he attempted to influence her memory by asking her about a conversation about the costs of his office renovation — a conversation she said never happened.
Jurors were played an audio recording of the meeting that happened Oct. 19, 2017, where Loughry and other court employees invited Ellis to discuss media requests for office renovation costs.
During that conversation, Loughry asked Ellis about a conversation in which he said he didn’t want his office renovations to cost more than those of the other justices on the court. She told him she didn’t remember the conversation, and the meeting continued on.
Citing other federal cases, Copenhaver said the indictment “falls short of sustaining a witness tampering conviction.”
In the other cases, there were multiple incidents of repeatedly trying to influence witnesses’ testimonies, as well as a sense of urgency that Copenhaver said was not present in Loughry’s witness tampering charge.
“The weight of the alleged persuasion here was, on balance, significantly less than that found in these cases,” Copenhaver said. “There was no repeated urging, no constant suggestions, and no direct instruction on how to respond to questioning.”
Regarding the other counts for which Loughry was convicted, though, Copenhaver allowed the verdict to stand.
“The consistency with which the defendant engaged in these unlawful acts over a 15-month period establishes a pattern and practice of fraudulent conduct that enabled him to convert to his own use, by false pretenses, assets of the State of West Virginia,” Copernhaver wrote.
Loughry still has one more appeal under seal pending. While specific details are unknown, that appeal involves an allegation of jury misconduct.
Loughry had been suspended without pay from the bench pending the result of the trial. The House of Delegates impeached Loughry and three other Supreme Court justices in August 2018, but a court order paused the impeachment trials. Loughry resigned Nov. 12, just before the Legislature was slated to start new impeachment proceedings against him.