West Virginia high court justice indicted on 22 charges

June 20 (UPI) — A West Virginia Supreme Court justice was indicted on 22 different charges Wednesday, including fraud, making false statements and witness tampering.

Allen Loughry was investigated by the FBI for years after agents suspected he engaged in a plot to defraud the government of West Virginia and lied when questioned about the scheme in March.

In a 30-page indictment, a grand jury said Loughry acted with “intent to defraud, misused and abused his position, power, and authority” as a justice.

The indictment says Loughry used a government credit card for gasoline and a Supreme Court vehicle for personal use. The justice also took a “valuable and historic desk” that belonged to the Supreme Court to his residence for his “home office,” it says.

The charges also say Loughry lied to government investigators and others in an attempt to deflect attention, and attempted to influence the grand jury testimony of a Supreme Court employee.

Loughry joined the state’s high court bench in 2012 and became its chief justice — a rotating position — in January 2017. He stepped down from that position earlier this year. He has been suspended without pay.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in West Virginia have called on Loughry to resign.

Wednesday, Democratic leaders said they want to begin impeachment proceedings.

“It is beyond time for the House to impeach Justice Loughry,” Sen. Richard Ojeda said. “I called for this action months ago and this Republican leadership just stalled and ignored it in order to protect one of their own.”