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Judge Uses Government Credit Card to Buy Gas, Goes to Prison for It

A former state supreme court justice received a two-year prison sentence for his part in a scandal that took down the entire West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Allen Loughry was also sentenced to three years supervised release, fined $10,000, and ordered to pay $1,200 in restitution. Loughry was convicted for crimes that stemmed from using a government credit card to pay for personal travel.

Stealing gas is a low-level street crime, but it gets worse when you lie to authorities about it. Every judge should know that.

"Respect for the Law"

Loughry and his lawyers had asked for probation or home confinement, but Judge John Copenhaver enhanced the sentence to 24 months in federal prison.

"Of great importance here is a sentence that promotes respect for the law and deters others," the judge said.

Loughry -- convicted of seven counts of wire fraud for using a government credit card to buy gas for golf trips -- was not solely responsible for mistrust in the judicial system. However, Coenhaver said, Loughry "contributed mightily" to an unprecedented, very public, judicial meltdown.

The state legislature voted to impeach the entire supreme court for misusing government funds. Several justices allegedly spent more than a million dollars on remodeling their judicial chambers and other "lavish" expenses.

"Deter Others"

Loughry was the first to be sentenced; former Justice Menis Ketchum is next. His attorneys have asked for probation or a fine, but prosecutors want Ketchum to do time.

Ketchum tried to get out of the mess early, pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud. But it doesn't look good for the former justice.

Copenhaver will decide his fate at a hearing on Feb. 27.

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