Are there others?
West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry engaged in fraud for years, according to a federal grand jury indictment. He was arrested by FBI agents last Wednesday, and faces a maximum of nearly 400 years in prison if he is convicted.
If charges against Loughry are accurate — and he is innocent until proven guilty — Mountain State residents should be extraordinarily angry at him. But there are other reasons for outrage, too.
Loughry behaved dishonestly on many occasions during a period of more than three and one-half years, according to the grand jury. During that time he used state vehicles for personal purposes, repeatedly filling them with gasoline paid for with a state credit card, the charges state. They add that Loughry also collected hundreds of dollars from two organizations that reimbursed him for travel to their events, though he had used state cars and credit cards to make the journeys.
Another allegation is that Loughry moved a priceless “Cass Gilbert” desk from Supreme Court offices to his home, knowing that was not permitted.
Finally, there are the charges involving attempts to cover up his behavior. Loughry lied to other high court justices, state employees, the press and FBI agents, according to the indictment.
If true, it is a sordid record by the man who once wrote a book about public corruption in West Virginia.
That brings up the question: How could Loughry have gotten away with his misbehavior for so long?
If Loughry managed to commit so many crimes for so long, has other possibly criminal behavior been committed by others, including justices and employees, in the Supreme Court?
Though neither the FBI nor the U.S. attorney involved in Loughry’s case has discussed their sources of information, documents could be viewed as suggesting that concern by one of the other four justices caused a probe to be initiated.
If that is true, it is exceedingly disturbing. It raises the question of why no other safeguards, no additional checks on Loughry’s use of state vehicles and the court’s desk, were effective.
If he is guilty, Loughry ought to be punished severely. Should that occur, however, West Virginians should not allow state government to close the book on corruption involving the high court.
Is Loughry just the tip of the iceberg? If so, that needs to be known and others need to be punished, too.