Friday, June 24, 2016

West Virginia Governor Arch Moore Jr.: Infrastructure, Floods, and Extortion


Barely halfway through his first term as governor of West Virginia, Arch Alfred Moore, Jr., found himself in the crosshairs of syndicated newspaper columnist Jack Anderson. The "Washington Merry-Go-Round" column was the last place a politician wanted to see their name. If anyone knew of any unscrupulous behavior by an elected official, tipping off Anderson or predecessor Drew Pearson would all but guarantee that the malfeasance would be exposed to a national audience. The allegations raised in the column were often an early indicator that a politician would be criminally charged.

In July 1970, Anderson wrote that Moore was under investigation for possible wrongdoing related to his campaign funds. The governor was suspected of stashing away $80,000 in contributions for his own personal use. Anderson suggested that such behavior would suit Moore, since he had been known for his lavish lifestyle while serving in the House of Representatives, such as keeping a posh home on the Potomac and frequently offering to pick up the check at expensive restaurants. The column also noted that the governor's chief purchasing agent, John Bell, had been indicted for bribery and that Moore's campaign finance reports openly admitted that he had accepted money from corporations - an illegal practice under West Virginia law.

Moore refused to comment, but after the column ran he denounced it as a "despicable lie." Anderson, standing behind his charges, challenged the governor to a televised debate. When Moore refused, Anderson ran a follow-up column outlining several instances of wrongdoing. He said the governor had employed creative accounting, including wrongful tax deductions for a plane and pilot's salary used while he was in Congress. He cited conflict of interest, saying Moore had continued to receive income from his law firm as it defended the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company and simultaneously defended the company on the floor of Congress. Anderson accused Moore of pocketing hundreds of shares of stock that a client's will had requested be donated to charity. In a separate column, he criticized the "thin-skinned" governor for pressuring United Press International to replace a state capitol reporter whose stories exposed wasteful spending.

All told, Anderson calculated that Moore had reported only $45,000 in income to the IRS between 1962 and 1966 when he had actually earned $176,000. In September 1970, the columnist wrote that Moore was "frantically pulling political strings to keep from being indicted for alleged income tax violations."

If the governor was trying to avert an indictment, he was successful; he was never indicted for tax fraud during this period. Anderson mentioned the matter again in 1975, in a column accusing President Richard Nixon of appointing district attorneys who focused their efforts on indicting and unseating Democratic governors. These officials could easily have charged Moore, he suggested, but they were "so eager to prosecute Democrats" that they "let Moore off the hook."

Rumors of corruption would plague Moore for much of his political career, contributing to his polarizing legacy. He invested in a number of initiatives that sought to benefit the public as a whole in West Virginia, and was popular enough that he won an unprecedented third term in office. But two decades after Anderson first suggested that Moore was corrupt, a prosecutor would say that the governor had committed an unprecedented level of election fraud as well.

Early life

Moore was born in Moundsville, West Virginia, on April 16, 1923. Politics ran in the family; his grandfather had served as mayor of the town, and his uncle as the minority leader for the Republicans in the state house of delegates. In his senior year of high school, Moore began working an eight-hour night shift at a factory to save up money for college. He began attending Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, but cut his studies short when he was drafted into the military in 1943.

Moore quickly rose to the rank of combat sergeant in the Army during World War II. He very nearly didn't make it out of the war alive. In November 1944, while leading a platoon near Aachen, Germany, Moore and his men came under machine gun fire. Thirty-three of the 36 soldiers in the platoon did not survive the day. Moore was grievously wounded when a bullet passed through his cheek and nearly severed his tongue. Left for dead in a beet field, he was found and rescued eight hours later. After several surgeries and 13 months of therapy, he regained the ability to speak.

For his service, Moore received the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman's Badge, and European Campaign Ribbon with three battle stars. He was discharged from the Army in 1946 and returned to his studies, this time staying closer to home. He studied political science at West Virginia University in Morgantown, earning a bachelor's degree in 1948. Moore was also active in political affairs during this time, writing the student constitution and lobbying for the construction of the state's first medical school. He stayed at the university to earn his law degree in 1951 and opened a private practice with his uncle.

Political beginnings

Following in his uncle's footsteps, Moore ran for the state house of delegates and served there from 1953 to 1955. He ran as a Republican for the House of Representatives in 1954, but lost to Democratic incumbent Robert H. Mollohan. Two years later, Moore was elected to Congress; at only 33 years old, he was the youngest representative at the time. He won the next five elections as well, serving through January 1969.
Moore shakes hands with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960 (Source)

Moore became known as a strong supporter of public works initiatives and civil rights measures. He was among the representatives from south of the Mason-Dixon Line to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While some members argued that only a moderate bill would have a prayer of passing muster with Southern senators, Moore argued for a bill that provided strong civil rights guarantees. If they sent the Senate a "water bill," he suggested, they would return a "water-water bill." He was also active in shaping American policy toward Vietnam, making several trips to the country.

In 1968, Moore decided to run in the West Virginia gubernatorial election instead of seeking re-election to Congress. He managed to defeat former Governor Cecil H. Underwood for the Republican nomination, moving on to face Democratic candidate Jim Sprouse in the general election. Although the Democratic Party was powerful in the state, certain factors conspired to favor Moore. He became well-liked for his friendly, backslapping bravado and ability to remember the name of just about anybody he met. In February 1968, the party was dealt a blow when W.W. "Wally" Barron, the Democratic governor who had served between 1961 and 1965, was indicted along with five others for bribery and conspiracy related to state contracts. Barron escaped the charges, but was later convicted of tampering with the jury that had acquitted him.

An incident that occurred just two days before the election likely caused many voters to sympathize with Moore. He was arriving by helicopter at a rally at a high school football field in Hamlin when the chopper struck a flagpole and plummeted 30 feet to the ground. All four people on the helicopter survived, but Moore suffered broken ribs as a result of the crash. Nevertheless, he briefly spoke to the assembled crowd before agreeing to go to the hospital.

This resilience impressed many people, and may have caused a large number of undecided voters to support Moore. On Election Day, he defeated Sprouse by a mere 12,875 votes out of nearly 744,000 cast.

Governor of West Virginia

The governor's role in state politics was newly strengthened when Moore arrived in office. The legislature had passed the Modern Budget Amendment, which broadened the governor's budgetary powers. While the West Virginia budget had formerly been delegated to a collective of state officials, the governor now had the ability to estimate revenues and propose spending. The office was strengthened again in 1970, when the legislature passed the Governor's Succession Amendment. Governors had been forbidden to run for re-election after a single term, but the new rule allowed them to seek re-election and serve two consecutive terms.

Moore took advantage of the change in the 1972 election, becoming the first West Virginia governor to succeed himself in a century. Democrats continued to outnumber Republicans in the state by a factor of two to one, and he faced West Virginia secretary of state John "Jay" Rockefeller IV. Though Rockefeller was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, his opposition to surface mining made him an unpopular figure among the state's powerful coal lobby. Moore was able to leverage this suspicion by accusing Rockefeller, a native New Yorker, of being an outsider who wanted to cripple the state's coal industry to benefit his wealthy family's oil interests. In his re-election bid, Moore won by a more comfortable margin of about 73,000 votes.

In his first two terms as governor of West Virginia, Moore placed heavy focus on infrastructure investment. A $350 million bond for road and bridge building projects was approved in 1968, and Moore's terms saw the completion of 182 miles of interstate highway, 184 miles of other highways, and 9,000 miles of secondary roads. He also oversaw the establishment of 44 vocational schools, 44 libraries, three community colleges, a cultural center, and the addition of gold leaf to the dome of the state capitol.

One span started during Moore's time in office was the iconic New River Gorge Bridge. The Appalachian Regional Commission, a partnership of 13 states dedicated to economic development initiatives in Appalachia, rotated its chairmanship among the member states' governors. When Moore's turn was up, he found that the commission had accumulated a substantial amount of money with no plans for its use. He proposed the construction of the bridge near Fayetteville, with an open top design to let drivers see "nothing but the sky and the world." The 3,030-foot bridge, completed in 1977 at a cost of $37 million, provided a stunning alternative to the 40-minute detour or treacherous mountain roads that had once greeted drivers who sought to cross the river. The crossing, currently the third highest bridge in the United States, was featured on the West Virginia state quarter design in 2005.

The New River Gorge Bridge under construction (Source)

Several of Moore's initiatives sought to improve benefits for the state's workers. He aimed to increase employment in West Virginia's coal mines while simultaneously supporting safety improvements and advocating for black lung disease to be classified as a mining disability. At one point, he helped negotiate a settlement to end a national coal strike. He established a free kindergarten program and supported $1,500 raises for about 17,000 teachers. He looked to improve benefits for welfare recipients, and during his administration benefits increased for about 20,000 families. About 13,000 more blind, elderly, and disabled people were also granted benefits.

In 1973, a riot broke out at the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville and five guards were taken hostage. An administrative assistant of Moore's negotiated with the prisoners and agreed to 20 of their 22 demands. The governor then visited the prison to give approval to the compromise and personally greet the hostages as they were released.

Of course, Moore's first two terms were not without controversy. Just two months into his tenure in 1969, approximately 2,600 state highway and transit workers went on strike to seek union recognition. Moore maintained that the workers did not have a right to unionize and that their action was illegal. When they failed to return to work after heavy March snows, Moore fired the striking workers so he could hire replacements to clear the roads. Many residents sympathized with the employees, and the mass termination appalled them. The governor defended himself by saying he had "no choice but to act with decisiveness." The action was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld it.

Throughout his time in office, Moore was dogged by rumors of corruption. He was suspected of taking bribes from coal companies, although he was never formally charged with such behavior. He was criticized for giving a state contract for license plate manufacturing to an Arkansas company headed by a person who had been convicted of taking bribes, and for allegedly accepting $23,000 in illegal campaign contributions from the Ashland Oil Company.

There were further suspicions about Moore's campaign activities when his liquor commissioner, Richard Barber, was convicted on charges of racketeering, extortion, and mail fraud. Though Moore wasn't charged in the scheme, Barber was accused of using his official permission to goad liquor salesmen into donating to Moore's campaign; prosecutors also said that Barber had taken liquor from a state warehouse and sent it to the governor's mansion.

Indictment in 1975

The suspicions against Moore reached a crescendo in December 1975, when the governor and his 1972 campaign manager were indicted on federal extortion charges. It marked the first time that a sitting West Virginia governor had been charged with a crime.

Six months prior to the indictment, a grand jury had indicted two officials of the Diversified Mountaineer Corporation on charges of fraud related to the bank's fundraising activities. Both president Theodore Price and controller Roger Baird agreed to plead to lesser charges and receive reduced sentences if they gave evidence against Moore and his campaign manager, William H. Loy. The officials said that when they sought a state charter for the bank, Moore and Loy said they would only grant it if they received $25,000 from the Diversified Mountaineer Corporation. The charter was never granted, and the bank later went into receivership.

Moore maintained his innocence and accused U.S. Attorney John Field III of waging a "personal vendetta" against him. The indictment came down not long before the governor was scheduled to announce his bid for an unprecedented third term, so he decided to make this announcement early. At a press conference, Moore denied any wrongdoing and declared his candidacy, saying, "I am announcing formally to you today that I will file, that I will run, that I will be successful."

The trial added to the rumors that Moore had engaged in shady practices when it came to his campaign. It was alleged that he kept $180,000 in cash in a drawer, having never reported it with his political contributions. Price suggested that he delivered money to Moore on three visits in September and October of 1972, but Moore's defense attorney questioned how trustworthy the former bank president was. The attorney described Price as a "felon, thief, and liar," accusing him of siphoning money from the bank and giving it to Moore as a political contribution. Both Moore and Loy took the stand to testify in their own defense; they were acquitted in May 1976.

Disaster at Buffalo Creek

One of Moore's most controversial actions, taking place during the last days of his second term, was related to a disaster that had occurred in 1972. For 15 years prior to that time, the Buffalo Mining Company, a subsidiary of the Pittston Coal Company, had been using mining waste to create dams on Buffalo Creek. By 1972, three of these dams were in place on the waterway. Pittston, the largest independent coal producer in the nation, had developed an infamous record on safety. The company was cited for more than 5,000 violations in its 1971 operations alone.

In February 1972, officials with the Buffalo Mining Company grew concerned about the integrity of the dams as rain fell continuously for several days. The company informed a Pittston official about the potential danger, but no residents were warned. On the morning of February 26, the largest dam on Buffalo Creek gave way. A torrent of some 130 million gallons of water rushed downstream, obliterating the other two dams and sweeping through 16 small mining communities. The flood killed 125 people, injured another 1,100, and left about 4,000 homeless. Property damage was estimated at $50 million, with another $15 million in damage to roads in the area.

The aftermath of the Buffalo Creek flood (Source)

Jack Anderson would later accuse Moore of monopolizing three National Guard helicopters to make a grandstanding entrance to the disaster zone. The columnist said the governor commandeered two choppers for himself and other VIPs; another helicopter was reserved for the press and sent in advance so that TV crews could capture the governor's arrival. Anderson said the National Guard was left with only two choppers for essential disaster relief work; the pilots of the other three were so frustrated at having to wait for the return of the governor's party that they left to complete a few supply runs while Moore was touring Buffalo Creek by car. Moore maintained that the helicopters were used for essential personnel, and that he brought along the reporters as an afterthought.

This cordial treatment toward the press did not last long. Moore was irritated by the tone of the news reports about the flood, since he believed that they were casting aspersions on the state as a whole. In response, he temporarily barred journalists from the disaster area. Moore would also make the rather callous statement that "the state of West Virginia took a terrible beating which far overshadowed the beating which the individuals who lost their lives took, and I consider this an even greater tragedy than the accident itself."

The Pittston Coal Company argued that it was not to blame in the disaster, claiming it was an "act of God." The company said the torrential rainfall had caused the flood, since the dam had been "incapable of holding the water God poured into it." Skeptical survivors replied that they had never witnessed the Lord Almighty driving the heavy equipment used to build up the dam.

Due to Moore's cozy relationship with the state's coal industry, many residents doubted that he would be able to assign responsibility for the flood without bias. In the days after the disaster, he argued that the Buffalo Creek dams were "logical and constructive." When the governor formed a state commission to investigate the cause of the dam collapse, all of its appointees either had connections to coal mining or were sympathetic to these companies. After Moore refused calls to diversify the commission with people such as environmentalists, coal miners, or survivors of the flood, a group of citizens formed their own commission.

Surprisingly, there was general consent between the federal, state, and citizens' commissions. All three groups agreed that the Pittston Coal Company bore responsibility for the flood due to its disregard for safety practices. Moore's commission concluded that the company had been piling up the mining waste "without utilizing technology developed for earthen dams and without using or consulting with professional persons qualified to design and build such a structure." It added that since the rainfall that preceded the collapse was not abnormal, there was no evidence for the "act of God" claimed by Pittston officials. The citizens' commission report was much angrier, accusing the company of murdering the flood victims through "gross negligence" and "incomprehensible callousness."

The Pittston Coal Company was subsequently hit with a trio of civil suits. One, filed on behalf of 625 adult survivors and family members of the victims, demanded $64 million. Another suit represented 348 juvenile survivors of the disaster. The state of West Virginia sought $100 million, more than enough to cover the property damage wrought by the deluge.

By this point, Moore's attempt to run for a third term had been stopped in its tracks. Another Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Melton M. Maloney, argued that Moore could not be on the ballot. The Governor's Succession Amendment allowed a governor to be re-elected, but limited the number of consecutive terms to two; under this rule, Moore could not run in 1976 and would only be able to enter the race again in 1980. Moore argued that this provision was unconstitutional since it violated the rights of voters who would want to re-elect him, but to no avail. In a 3-2 decision, the state supreme court ruled that Moore was ineligible as a candidate in the 1976 election. Maloney lost the GOP primary to Cecil Underwood, who was defeated by Jay Rockefeller in the general election.

In his final days in office in January 1977, Moore approved a settlement of the state's claim in the Buffalo Creek flood. The Pittston Coal Company would only be required to pay a fraction of the original demand: $1 million. The paltry sum wasn't even enough to cover the cleanup costs assessed to the company by the Army Corps of Engineers. Responsibility for this debt was tied up in court until 1988, when West Virginia taxpayers were ordered to pay the $9.5 million tab owed to the federal government for cleanup costs, plus interest.

The settlement with Pittston was heavily criticized, with some residents denouncing it as an example of Moore favoring the state's business interests over people who had been harmed by the coal industry's shoddy practices. The plaintiffs in the private civil suits fared little better. Pittston agreed to pay $13.5 million to the adult survivors of the flood and their family members and $4.8 million to the juvenile survivors. After legal costs, each victim got about $13,000.

Moore later denied that he had personally negotiated the inadequate settlement of the state's lawsuit. He blamed the West Virginia state legislature, saying they had directed state attorney general Chauncey Browning to resolve the case. He said Browning visited him to request his signature, and that he later regretted giving his approval to the agreement after learning how little money Pittston would pay the state. "I had nothing to do with the lawsuit," Moore claimed. "The legislature directed the attorney general to direct the lawsuit. I wasn't asked about the amount sued for. I had nothing to do with the pleadings. My office never saw any of that."

Third term as governor

In 1978, Moore made a bid for the U.S. Senate. The incumbent candidate, Democratic Senator Jennings Randolph, spent about five times as much on his campaign as Moore. He was able to keep his seat, but won by less than 5,000 votes. Observers suggested that a significant number of Moore's supporters may have withheld their votes in this campaign so he would be able to run for governor again in 1980.

Sure enough, Moore launched a bid for a third term when this gubernatorial election came around. Once again, he was vastly outspent by his opponent, raising only $1 million for the race. Rockefeller's campaign poured $11.6 million into the race, with most of this funding coming from the governor's personal fortune. Moore's supporters began sporting bumper stickers with the slogan, "Make him spend it all, Arch." Rockefeller was re-elected with 54.5 percent of the vote.

Four years later, Moore again tried for another term as governor. Since term limits prohibited Rockefeller from running again, he instead made a bid for the Senate; he would be successful and keep his seat for the next 30 years. Moore faced off against Democratic candidate Clyde M. See, Jr., who was then the speaker of the state house of delegates. Moore was victorious in the 1984 election, making him the first and so far only West Virginia governor to serve three terms.

Moore immediately faced challenges during this term. West Virginia was suffering economically due to a slump in the coal industry, and the state had the highest unemployment rate in the nation. The governor frequently clashed with the Democratic legislature in his efforts to bolster the state's business environment. He instituted corporate tax credits to try to attract new businesses, said he would approve a casino gambling bill if one was passed by the legislature, and cut the amount of money employers were required to pay into worker's compensation by 30 percent. This action, a reversal of his earlier policy to encourage an increase in worker's compensation funds by up to 75 percent, led to a major deficit in the program. At one point, he delayed income tax returns to thousands of residents as part of the financial crunch.

Another riot broke out at the West Virginia State Penitentiary in January 1986. In response to more restrictive visitation policies and poor living conditions, such as deteriorating plumbing and overcrowding, inmates seized several areas of the prison and took more than a dozen hostages. The rioters demanded to speak with Moore, who was on vacation in Florida. He refused to consider the meeting until all of the hostages had been released.

Eventually, the hostages were freed and Moore returned to hear the prisoners' grievances. The incident hadn't ended as peacefully as the 1973 riot, though. Over the course of the crisis, the inmates put on mock trials for three prisoners accused of being informants. After they were summarily found guilty, the men were slaughtered.

Moore escorts a freed hostage to an ambulance after the 1986 prison riot in Moundsville (Source)

The riot and prisoner deaths led to a war of words between Moore and his predecessor. Moore blamed the murders on informant policies implemented by Rockefeller, an accusation which Rockefeller decried as "cowardly and contemptible." He in turn criticized the governor for being conspicuously absent for three days of the crisis, choosing instead to "leave the hard negotiating in Moundsville to his press secretary." Moore replied that he thought cutting his vacation short would only worsen the situation, so he had instead opted to stay in touch with state officials via telephone.

There were increasing suspicions about corruption in the state government. Moore was criticized for refusing to release his income tax returns in 1986. He also said he would not address renewed allegations of unethical behavior during his first two terms, calling the attacks "vicious and ugly."

One accusation nearly cost Moore his shot at re-election. In 1985, federal investigators planted a listening device in Moore's office. This was thought to be part of a federal investigation into corruption in Mingo County. Prosecutors eventually convicted county political boss and former sheriff Johnie Owens, who was charged with accepting a $100,000 bribe to influence the sheriff's race in 1982. Owens soon accused Moore of trying to give him a $12,000 bribe to influence his re-election bid in 1972. The governor responded by calling Owens a "convicted felon and an experienced liar," saying there was "not an ounce of truth in anything he says."

Nevertheless, the suspicions against Moore were strong enough that he only garnered 53 percent of the Republican primary vote in the 1988 gubernatorial race. It was enough to defeat John Raese, a millionaire from Morgantown, but a poor sign for the general election. In November, Democratic candidate Gaston Caperton won by a healthy majority of 58.9 percent.

Extortion, fraud, and obstruction of justice

Two years later, Moore made a startling admission. Federal officials announced on April 12, 1990, that the former West Virginia governor had been indicted on charges of extortion, mail fraud, tax fraud, and obstruction of justice. They also announced that Moore had agreed to plead guilty to all charges. The indictment revealed that Moore had engaged in illegal campaign activities during the 1984 and 1988 elections, corruption during his third term in office, and attempts to hinder the grand jury investigation by falsifying documents, lying to federal investigators, and trying to convince witnesses to give false testimony.

Since Moore had vigorously denied charges of corruption for so many years, the admission of guilt came as a surprise to many residents. Rather than fighting the indictment as he had in 1975, he was simply giving in. "This news will be greeted with a great joy by some in the state of West Virginia. There will be others who will be sincerely grieved by reason of their devotion to me and my family," said Moore. "I know I have their understanding and love. For that, I shall be ever grateful."

Caperton was quick to criticize his predecessor, proclaiming, "I am confident that West Virginians will realize that not only did I inherit a government that was financially bankrupt, but ethically bankrupt as well." Edgar Heiskell, the state GOP chairman, described Moore's admission of corruption as "a great tragedy for the state and its good people." He cautioned residents not to consider the indictment an act of political vengeance, noting how the case had been handled by a Republican prosecutor and the Justice Department in a Republican presidential administration.

The investigation into Moore was part of a larger probe into corruption in West Virginia's state government. Prosecutors would also win convictions against five legislators, three lobbyists, two state government workers, and a state senate aide.

Federal prosecutors had used a colleague of Moore's to secure some damning evidence against the former governor. In January, Moore had met with his 1988 campaign manager, John Leaberry, to discuss the finances of that race. During the conversation, he noted how he had accepted illegal contributions and discussed strategies for how he and Leaberry could deny wrongdoing. Unbeknownst to Moore, Leaberry was wearing a wire. Investigators had already confronted him with charges of filing a false tax return in 1988; as part of his own plea agreement, he had agreed to record the conversation to expose Moore. When investigators met with Moore, they played the tape to convince him not to contest the charges.

Moore was also accused of directing $100,000 in illegal contributions into his gubernatorial campaign in 1984. Other charges held that he had filed false tax returns in 1984 and 1985 by failing to report $72,500 he had received from lobbyists and corporations.

The most serious charge against Moore related to West Virginia's black lung fund, which coal companies paid into to support claims by the state's miners. When H. Paul Kizer, the operator of the Maben Energy Corporation, asked for Moore's assistance in getting a $2.3 million reimbursement from the fund, the governor agreed to help out. However, Moore also wanted a 25 percent kickback. Kizer agreed to pay him $573,721.47, and the governor drew up falsified backdated documents to create the illusion that this payment was a legitimate contingency fee.

Kizer also suggested that Moore had demanded money in exchange for freeing the coal operator from a murder charge. This charge stemmed from a strange series of events, starting in March 1986 when a man named Jimmy Vickers caught Kizer in bed with his girlfriend and assaulted them both. Kizer allegedly went to one of his employees, James Bonham, for help in seeking retribution against Vickers. Bonham hired two men to confront Vickers at his trailer and one, James Davis, shot and killed Kizer's assailant.

Both Kizer and Bonham were arrested and went to trial in 1988. Kizer later claimed that Moore solicited a $50,000 donation, laundered through a Republican National Committee account, to assist with his campaign. In exchange, Moore promised to pardon Kizer if he was convicted. While Bonham was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy to commit malicious wounding, Kizer was acquitted.

Moore was never charged for this alleged extortion, but prosecutors said the federal judge would be made aware of other crimes they believed Moore had committed. As part of his agreement to plead guilty, they would not pursue these charges. Moore dutifully pleaded to a five-count indictment on May 8. He faced a maximum sentence of 36 years in prison and a $1.2 million fine.

On June 28, less than two weeks before his sentencing date, Moore tried to withdraw his plea. He claimed that the original plea had only been an attempt by his lawyer to test how strong the prosecution's case was. He also complained that he had been forced into the plea, saying he had been given only one day to review the agreement. He accused the prosecution of threatening to file more than 20 counts against him, including federal racketeering charges, if he declined. The judge refused to let him back out of the agreement.

Moore's sentencing went ahead as planned on July 10. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Campbell described Moore's acts as "a scheme to run the election outside the limit of the law." Another prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Savage, said Moore had committed election fraud on an unprecedented scale and shown no remorse for his actions. "It is hard not to admire the intellect, determination, resilience, the sheer endurance and force of personality that is Arch A. Moore, Jr.," he said. "But it is likewise impossible not to loathe the duplicity, the greed, and unparalleled corruption perpetrated by this same man."

The sentencing also revealed more petty instances of corruption. Savage said that Moore had taken a vehicle on a test drive in 1984 and never brought it back to the dealership. He said Moore had only paid the business in 1990 after he came under investigation.

Moore's defense attorney, William Hundley, denied that Moore had been uncooperative with prosecutors. He also said the campaign financing corruption committed by the former governor was a less serious offense than the direct embezzlement of state funds. "I submit he served well and honorably."

Moore was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison as well as a $170,000 fine. Under federal guidelines, he was required to serve at least two-and-a-half years behind bars before he could be considered for parole. He was also forbidden from seeking public office again. "It's a landmark case," said U.S. Attorney Michael Carey. "I think it sends a very clear message. If you violate the public trust, you go to jail."

Later in the year, the state of West Virginia sued Moore for damages related to his misconduct. He settled in 1996 for $750,000, but didn't admit fault. In October 1991, he was disbarred. After two years and eight months in prison, he was transferred to home confinement to serve the last four months of his sentence before his release. He subsequently began working as a consultant.

Final years

For the rest of his life, Moore would try to vacate his conviction and get his law license restored. He argued that he was factually or legally innocent of the charges against him, and that he had received poor legal advice from his defense counsel. The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his attempts in 1991, and the Supreme Court did so as well in 1995.

Moore's attempts to regain his law license extended into the 21st century. At one point, he declared, "I want to die a lawyer." The West Virginia Supreme Court issued a particularly strong rebuke against him in 2003, denying his request and accusing him of a "lack of candor" and "pattern of deception" in his post-conviction appeals. In comparing the transcript of his recorded conversation with Leaberry with his testimony before the court, the justices noted that he "was not only willing to conspire to fabricate testimony when facing indictment in 1990, but, sadly, that he was just as willing to provide disingenuous testimony in this proceeding in the hope of reinstating his law license." The court accused him of "a willingness - on a sustained and knowing basis - to be dishonest, to deceive, to conceal the truth and to bend, manipulate and violate the law, for personal and professional gain."

The denial of wrongdoing, which the court described as a continued unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions, continued into Moore's later years. While promoting his biography Arch in 2008, Moore told a country club audience that he had considered apologizing for his criminal conviction but decided that he could not do it. "I cannot do that today or any other day," he said. "I am sorry for what my family went through. I am sorry for what my fellow West Virginians went through, but I cannot apologize."

Moore with daughter Shelley Moore Capito on his 90th birthday in 2013 (Source)

One of Moore's children, Shelley Moore Capito, followed in her father's footsteps and pursued a political career. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and remained there for seven terms before winning a seat in the Senate. Moore died in Charleston on January 7, 2015, one day after his daughter was sworn into her new position.


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