Bristol judge accused of misconduct in BVU corruption scandal
BRISTOL, Va. - A state commission is pushing to remove or punish a local judge connected to the BVU corruption scandal. Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Kurt Pomrenke is the subject of a complaint filed with the Virginia Supreme Court. He is accused of misconduct during the trial of his wife, Stacey Pomrenke. The complaint seeks to force the removal or retirement of Judge Pomrenke from the bench or punish him with a censure. It comes after the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission of Virginia heard evidence last month. Judge Pomrenke currently presides in the 28th Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judicial District, which serves the City of Bristol, Washington County and Smyth County. He is facing charges of official misconduct in a complaint filed by the state Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission with the Virginia Supreme Court. The complaint stems from last year's trial of his wife, Stacey Pomrenke, in federal court in Abingdon. Stacey Pomrenke is the former Chief Financial Officer of BVU. She was among nine top executives and contractors sent to prison in that case. During her trial, prosecutors went after both her and her husband for contempt of court. The evidence that surfaced included a note that Judge Pomrenke sent to BVU CEO Don Bowman. Pomrenke called it a thank you note, but prosecutor Zach Lee said he was trying to influence Bowman's potential testimony. The note from Pomrenke to Bowman said, "Hi Don; I just wanted to sincerely thank you for your kindness and understanding and support for Stacey during these horrible times. By now, I am sure you would agree she is absolutely honest, truthful, ethical and innocent! It is horrible what our government is doing to her. She will be proven innocent. Thank you for believing in her." Judge Pomrenke also placed his state business card in the letter sent to Bowman. Judge Pomrenke and his legal team noted the letter was sent before the subpoenaed witness list was distributed to the parties involved. He also said it is common practice for him to include a business card with personal contact information. Lee also made public a voicemail Judge Pomrenke left on the answering machine of another potential witness and employee of BVU. "Hey Connie, this is Kurt, um, when you're testifying in that trial, there might be a couple of things you could do that would really help Stacey. If you could kinda slip in when you have a chance just little remarks like, how Stacey did a great job, or Stacey was the one that took care of the employees, or Stacey is just an honest ... Just any, any kind of little comments you can make to support her, or just just something like that even thought it's not directly in response to the questions, if you could figure out a way to, to do that I really think that would help and make a huge difference. I'm sorry you're caught up in this, but we feel real good about the outcome and sure appreciate your help. Thank you, bye." The federal court judge said while Pomrenke's actions may be improper, he rejected a contempt charge. Now, records News 5 have obtained from sources close to the case show Judge Pomrenke was called before the the State Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission last month. As a result, that commission filed a formal complaint with the Virginia Supreme Court. The court has issued an order, giving the commission until August 1 to file evidence. We also obtained Judge Pomrenke's written response to the commission, saying the charges lack merit and are an attempt to embarrass him. Wednesday morning his legal team issued a statement which reads, "Judge Pomrenke is deeply committed to his work as Judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for the 28th District of Virginia. He has fully cooperated with this process, which considers how the Canons, that is the rules which apply to Judges, are affected by two particular actions, personal to the Judge, and not related to cases before him or in his court. Judge Pomrenke looks forward to the opportunity to address this matter before the Court." Officials with the court say it reconvenes in September for hearings, but no date for this case has been set yet.