Jury to start deliberations in Justice Loughry’s trial
CHARLESTON — Allen Loughry, the embattled justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, remains confident that he committed no federal crimes.
Starting today, a jury will get to decide if the evidence backs up Loughry’s confidence. The defense rested its case Tuesday after the jurors heard five days of testimony.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Wright continued his cross-examination of Loughry Tuesday morning at the Robert C. Byrd Courthouse in Charleston. The prosecution rested its case — based on a 22-count federal indictment against Loughry– on Monday.
Wright asked Loughry how he came to obtain the keys for the court’s two Buicks — a brown Buick Lucerne and a black Buick LaCrosse. Loughry said that Arthur Angus, the court’s director of security, gave him the keys after the court fired former court administrator Steve Canterbury on Jan. 4, 2017.
“I didn’t take a set of keys, but I did have a set of keys,” Loughry said. “Arthur and I met at the end of that day. We met in Mr. Canterbury’s former office and he handed me the keys.”
Loughry is charged with filing false and fraudulent mileage claims for trips using a court Buick and state fuel card to American University in Washington, D.C., in October 2013, and a legal conference sponsored by the Pound Civil Justice Institute in Baltimore, Md., in August 2014.
Loughry also is charged in 15 counts for using the court’s vehicles and fuel cards for personal trips unrelated to court business. Evidence from the trial allegedly shows at least two instances where a state fuel card was used to fill up possibly two different vehicles, one with unleaded gasoline and the other with unleaded-plus. Wright showed that the fuel purchases coincide with a trip Loughry made to the Morgantown area in November 2013.
“It would be coincidental if another card was used at the same time,” Loughry said.
Wright also used the fuel times and cell phone records to show that Loughry often used the state vehicles for holidays when no official use could be determined.
“What official business could you be conducting at 8:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day,” Wright asked, referring to one of the vehicle trips Loughry made. The cell phone and fuel records show multiple trips to Tucker County where Loughry is from and his parents reside.
John Carr, attorney for Loughry, asked his client about the accuracy of the records from WEX, the vendor for the fuel cards.
“I’ve spent a lot of times looking at those records. There are all sorts of inconsistencies,” Loughry said. “These records are a mess.”
Several of the personal trips Loughry is alleged to have taken using the state car and fuel card was to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs for book signings. Loughry was the author of “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide,” published in 2006 by McClain Publishing in Parsons.
Wright asked Loughry about how he was compensated for the book signings. The Greenbrier would order books from Kelly Loughry, Loughry’s wife, who maintained a sole proprietorship. The Greenbrier would send the profits from the book sales to Kelly, but the money would be deposited by Loughry in a joint Chase checking account.
The Greenbrier also sent a 1099 tax form to the Loughry’s, but his 2015 extra-judicial compensation form lists no additional income for Loughry. Wright asked Loughry why he didn’t report the income.
“I did not do so because they were payable to my wife Kelly Loughry,” he said.
During rebuttal, the prosecution called Canterbury to the stand. He told the jurors that he never told Loughry he could take a desk from the Supreme Court to his home. During testimony on Monday, Loughry said Canterbury told him about the court’s home office policy and to take a desk home.
The desk turned out to be an historic Cass Gilbert desk.
Loughry is charged with making false statements to investigators regarding whether he had the desk, and wire fraud for allegedly giving the public information officer false information to send to a reporter regarding a court home office policy.
“I never used the term ‘home office,'” Canterbury said. “I told him he could have a computer and a printer…we never discussed a desk.”
“Until the end of November 2017, I never knew he had a desk,” Canterbury told jurors. “Cass Gilbert desks are icons.”
Vicky Shafer, a retired assistant for Loughry, returned to the stand Tuesday and told jurors that Loughry’s desk was not a Cass Gilbert desk. Calling the antique desks “old and stinky,” Shafer said she had not heard those desks called Cass Gilbert desks.
“Until the news reports came out referring to them as Cass Gilbert, I did not believe they were Cass Gilbert desks,” Shafer said.
The court will reconvene 10 a.m. today for jurors to hear closing statements and to decide a verdict on the 22 charges against Loughry.
(Adams can be contacted at email@example.com)