A justice from West Virginia’s Supreme Court has resigned and will plead guilty for wire fraud, stemming from an audit on vehicle misuse that forced the court to suspend its chief justice in June. This is part of a larger effort to identify fraud and corruption within the state Supreme Court.
In July, W.V. Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum announced he would retire at the end of the month. He did not provide a reason for leaving.
Shortly after, it was revealed that Ketchum used a state-owned vehicle and state-owned credit card for personal use, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Court documents revealed that Ketchum used his state-issued vehicle and state-issued fuel card on several trips to golf clubs between 2011 and 2014. On one such trip, Ketchum racked up 400 miles on his fleet vehicle. Ketchum agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. One count of wire fraud reportedly carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Ketchum’s resignation is part of a larger investigation into corruption in West Virginia’s Supreme Court. In late May, an audit revealed that Chief Justice Allen Loughry misused fleet vehicles in at least 14 instances. Loughry was indicted on 22 charges of fraud, providing false statement, and witness tampering.
In August, after Ketchum’s retirement went into effect, state legislators passed articles of impeachment against Loughry and the three remaining Supreme Court justices on maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail. One of the impeached justices announced plans to retire, while the other two plan on staying.