Kurt Pomrenke sentenced to 2 months in jail, must pay $1,000 fine
Kurt Pomrenke, former juvenile judge in Bristol and the surrounding area since 2013, is going to prison.
Pomrenke will serve two months in federal prison for contempt of court.
As part of his wife's legal team in her February 2016 BVU corruption trial, federal judge James P. Jones gave Kurt Pomrenke special permission to access the documents in discovery. A court order mandated those documents remain confidential.
When a complaint was filed against Pomrenke to the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission about potential witness tampering during his wife's case, he revealed documents he was not supposed to under court order to the commission.
He was subsequently found guilty of contempt of court.
Judge Jones said Pomrenke was too experienced a lawyer and judge and knowlegeable to not know what he did was wrong. Judge Jones said the harm in the case was to the rule of law. He said Pomrenke's conduct showed a pattern of neglecting the law.
Prosecutors had pressed for prison time.
"We've very satisfied with the judge's decision. 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," Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Lee said.
Stacey Pomrenke was convicted of corruption, as well as contempt of court. She was sentenced 32 months, plus two more for contempt, the same punishment her husband now receives.
Kurt Pomrenke is to report to prison at a later date and did not comment after the hearing. He has 14 days to appeal the ruling.
Prosecutors are saying a former sitting judge committing a criminal offense and manipulating testimony in his wife's corruption trial deserves jail time.
That is the sentencing recommendation that Judge James Jones will hear from U.S. Attorneys today when Kurt Pomrenke sits in an Abingdon courtroom awaiting his fate on a contempt of court conviction.
Pomrenke was removed from the bench of the Bristol Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court earlier this week by the Supreme Court of Virginia for violating the judicial canons of conduct. Those violations stem from evidence of witness tampering during his wife Stacey's trial in the BVU scandal.
"This is a case that necessitates a sentence of imprisonment," wrote U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle, who also said that Pomrenke's willful violation of the court's discovery order was the final act in a course of conduct that deliberately attempted to subvert the ethical and legal rules that are the basis of the United States justice system.
Also filed are letters of support from former Bristol, Virginia city attorneys Pete Curico and Ed Stout.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Pomrenke is the second judge in the last 23 years to be removed from the bench by the state Supreme Court. The other was also a juvenile and domestic relations judge who resolved some visitation issues by flipping a coin.
The former judge is scheduled to appear in court beginning at 1:30 p.m. News 5's Olivia Bailey is in Abingdon and will have full reports on the case this evening.