UPDATE: A federal judge sentenced Kurt Pomrenke to two months in prison and a $1,000 fine Thursday following his criminal contempt conviction. Judge James Jones announced his decision after Pomrenke apologized in the courtroom, saying Pomrenke “undermined the rule of law” when he violated a court order.
“I deeply respect you and this court,” Pomrenke told the judge. “I’m deeply sorry I’m here in this situation…I was completely wrapped up in my wife’s situation. Nothing was ever meant to disrespect the court…I’m sorry.”
The same judge previously sentenced Pomrenke’s wife, Stacey, to two months for her criminal contempt conviction. Pomrenke will be allowed to self-report to prison at a later date.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Lee told us he’s happy with the judge’s decision and added it sends a clear message.
“We’re very satisfied with the judge’s decision,” he said. “We think it sends a clear message, not only to Mr. Pomrenke, but also to others that this type of conduct that truly hits at the base of our justice system won’t be tolerated by anybody. We’re very happy. Our system of justice is based upon rules and everybody following those rules and when somebody decides that they’re not going to follow the rules of the court for whatever reason, it can impact all of us and really can diminish the power of our justice system.”
Judge Jones told Pomrenke, “The harm here was to the rule of law,” adding the former judge was motivated by “selfish reasons.”
Earlier this week, the Virginia Supreme Court removed Pomrenke from the bench following a judicial misconduct investigation. Judge Jones previously found him guilty of criminal contempt related to court records he inappropriately shared with the agency in charge of that investigation.
Judge Jones previously sentenced Pomrenke’s wife, the former chief financial officer of Bristol Virginia Utilities, to nearly three years in prison after a jury found her guilty of corruption charges in a lengthy investigation involving BVU. Her charges included tax fraud, conspiracy and bribery.
We reported earlier that Stacey Pomrenke had asked for gifts from businesses, as well as gifts from some BVU employees without reporting it to the IRS.
Stacey Pomrenke was also ordered to pay around $60,000 in fines, restitution and forfeitures. She reported to a West Virginia prison in Sept. 2016 and was expected to be released a little more than a year earlier than anticipated.
Federal prosecutors told us that the BVU corruption investigation is still open.
ABINGDON, VA (WJHL) – Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to sentence former judge Kurt Pomrenke to time in prison today for his criminal contempt conviction, according to federal court records.
“A sentence of imprisonment will not only demonstrate to the public the seriousness of the offense charged, take into account that this violation was not an isolated incident, take into account the characteristics and history of the defendant, and would afford adequate deterrence to others,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.
Court filings show while the U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking imprisonment, Pomrenke’s attorney is asking for a fine, citing the man’s community service, lack of criminal history and the “deep and permanent punishment” he’s already received from the public and his peers.
Five attorneys wrote letters supporting Pomrenke’s cause, including former Bristol City Attorney Pete Curcio, according to court records. Those attorneys called him “a person…and a judge…of impeccable character” and “a remarkable Judge and…quite simply, a good person” and argued he should be “given consideration for his lifetime of service in appropriate balance with any mistakes he may have made under such difficult circumstances,” according to court records.
Earlier this week, the Virginia Supreme Court removed Pomrenke from the bench following a judicial misconduct investigation. A federal judge previously found him guilty of criminal contempt related to court records he inappropriately shared with the agency in charge of that investigation. That same judge sentenced Pomrenke’s wife, Stacey, to two months in prison on her contempt conviction related to her federal corruption trial.
Kurt Pomrenke is scheduled to be sentenced this afternoon in Abingdon.
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