This month, former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry began a two-year federal prison stay in South Carolina to be followed thereafter by three years of supervised release. He also faces a $10,000 fine.
Only a year and a half ago, a local news crew ran a story on the nearly $35,000 couch, among other luxuries, in Loughry’s Supreme Court office. The investigation that followed led to 22 federal charges including 17 counts of wire fraud.
What might seem, at first glance, like simple local flimflams sometimes transform into serious federal wire fraud cases. If you have reason to believe you or someone you know might face fraud charges, wire fraud is a crime you may want to understand.
How is wire fraud different from fraud?
In a way, wire fraud is fraud using phone lines, the airwaves or the internet. A person commits wire fraud if they do, or intend to, hatch or take part in a scheme meant to get money or property under false pretenses using interstate electronic communications. Penalties rise if the fraud involves a financial institution or is related to a declared major disaster.
People, money and messages cross borders so routinely today that fraud without interstate wires is getting hard to imagine. Allen Loughry used a West Virginia government credit card to gas up a state vehicle to conduct personal business in Baltimore. As a result, the jury found him guilty of seven counts of federal wire fraud.
Defending against charges of wire fraud
There are defenses for the very serious federal charge of wire fraud. As stiff as Loughry’s sentence and fines may be, he faced a potential fine of $2.75 million and a 190-year prison sentence. Of the 22 charges against him, he was convicted of only 11.
But such defenses need experienced and assertive attorneys. If you face fraud charges or think you could in the future, it’s important to have a good lawyer on your side and to get their legal advice as early as possible.