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Jurors to return Thursday in federal court trial of Justice Allen Loughry

Jurors are deliberating in the federal court trial of West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry. Loughry is shown in this file photo, at left, with his attorney, John Carr. (WCHS/WVAH)

UPDATE, 5 p.m.

Jurors will return Thursday morning after starting their deliberations in the federal court trial of suspended West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry Wednesday.

After an hour of delivering instructions Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver released the jury to begin its deliberations at about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Loughry faces 22 federal charges - two counts of mail fraud, 17 counts of wire fraud, one count of witness tampering and two counts of false statements.

After deliberating for about an hour and a half, jury did not reach a verdict Wednesday and will return at 9:30 a.m. Thursday for the eighth day of Loughry's trial in federal court in Charleston.

Closing arguments are underway in the federal court trial of West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry.

The government made its closing arguments when the trial began its seventh day Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. Loughry’s defense was scheduled to do its closing arguments when the court resumed at 11:20 a.m. after a break. The prosecution will then get another opportunity to make remarks.

After lunch, the jury will receive instructions.

During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey said when Loughry was elected, he gained power and with that power came arrogance and an unbridled sense of entitlement at the court had never seen.

McVey argued that Loughry treated public resources as his own. He then detailed the accusations in the 22-count indictment.

Counts 23 and 25 involve allegations that Loughry made false statements to the FBI regarding the use of a state vehicle and a Cass Gilbert desk that he took home. The assistant U.S. attorney mentioned that several people talked about during testimony that Loughry was aware that he had a historic Cass Gilbert desk at his home, despite what he told investigators.

Meanwhile, the government also mentioned counts 4 through 18 in the indictment regarding Loughry’s alleged use of a state vehicle and fuel purchase card. The assistant attorney cited several different instances, including holidays and book signings that Loughry did at The Greenbrier resort.

Loughry has contended that any time he used a state vehicle and fuel card it was for state business and that he was always a justice never off the clock.

The government also touched on count 1 and 2 that deal with wire fraud involving travel Loughry did to his alma mater when he took a state vehicle and American sent him a check for his travel.

McVey also talked about the witness tampering allegation that involves when he met with employee Kim Ellis and tried to get her to remember that he told her he did not want his office renovations to exceed those of former Justice Menis Ketchum and Justice Margaret Workman. Ellis testified that Loughry never told her he wanted to keep those costs down.

In its closing arguments, the defense raised the point that jurors that the case had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Loughry’s attorney John Carr said there were two things wrong with the state’s fuel purchase card system – odometer readings are entered by people and the time stamps don’t match up with the fuel pumps.

Carr also reiterated that that Loughry didn’t know that he had a historic Cass Gilbert desk in his possession. He also contended that former Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterburylied on the stand when he said he didn’t know that Loughry had a Cass Gilbert desk.

The defense attorney also questioned witness memories and said former Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin’s testimony should be discounted because he was aligned with former Justice Robin Davis.

Loughry faces 22 federal charges - two counts of mail fraud, 17 counts of wire fraud, one count of witness tampering and two counts of false statements.

Prosecutors contended during the trial that Loughry walked into the Robert C. Byrd Courthouse in March and made false statements to an FBI agent, denying he used a state vehicle for personal use, lied about the Cass Gilbert desk and that he knew it was a Cass Gilbert desk that was transported to his home.

Loughry also is accused of traveling to his alma mater American University to speak and charged for mileage even though he used a state vehicle. The government said Loughry did a similar thing when he made an appearance at a “think tank.”

The defense contended that the case was all based on conjecture and hearsay and that Loughry had made many people mad when he authored a book about political corruption. His attorney maintained it was all about settling a political score.

His use of state vehicles was the center of most charges with witnesses testifying he took cars for personal use to his home county and other places on holidays and weekends. That charge he denied on the stand, and in a March interview with the FBI. and other investigators, which played for jurors at the trial.

During the trial, the government did a deep dive into documents as they reviewed Loughry’s travel and use of state vehicles and a fuel card.

Loughry has faced a series of legal troubles. He is currently suspended from the bench at the West Virginia Supreme Court and his trial on seven articles of impeachment is scheduled Nov. 12 in the state Senate. He also is accused of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.

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