VA Judge Ousted for Contacting Witnesses

Virginia Supreme Court removes Judge Kurt Pomrenke for being in touch key witnesses in a pending federal corruption case against his wife. He is only the second state judge in 23 years to be removed by the Supreme Court.

A Virginia juvenile and domestic relations judge has been removed from the bench by the Virginia Supreme Court after he admitted contacting two key witnesses in a pending federal corruption case against his wife, the Washington Post reports. Kurt Pomrenke, 64, was elected to the bench in 2013 to hear cases in Washington and Smyth counties and Bristol City along the Virginia-Tennessee border. He is only the second Virginia judge in the past 23 years to be removed by the state Supreme Court. The other was a juvenile and domestic judge who resolved some visitation issues with a coin flip. Pomrenke has been found guilty of contempt of court by a federal judge in connection with his wife’s case and is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. His wife, Stacey Pomrenke, a former chief financial officer of Bristol Virginia Utilities, is serving a 34-month prison sentence on multiple charges of conspiracy, extortion and wire fraud, as well as contempt of court, in part for her husband’s contact with potential witnesses in the case.

Kurt Pomrenke conceded to the state Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission that his actions were wrong and violated the state Canons of Judicial Conduct. He suggested that he only be censured, but the Supreme Court said his actions were “particularly damaging to the integrity of the judicial process and the confidence of the citizens of the Commonwealth…” Pomrenke’s downfall began with the 2015 indictment of his wife on 15 corruption-related counts. She had been the chief financial officer of the city’s electric, water and sewer utility since 2003.  Prosecutors alleged that she pressured vendors for tickets to ballgames and auto races, money to pay for employee parties, awarded bonuses to BVU employees without reporting them for tax purposes, and other chicanery.