WELLSBURG, W.Va. – Shelly Lough stole nearly $1.4 million from Bethany College in an effort to stop an extortion attempt by two people who threatened to harm her children in addition to exposing an extramarital affair.
Taking the extortion into account – as well as Lough’s cooperation in pursuing federal charges against the pair responsible for the extortion attempt – Brooke County Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson on Tuesday handed down a sentence on Lough that could result in her serving as little as six months in jail.
Lough, 46, of Wheeling, pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to one count of embezzlement and one count of falsifying accounts. She admitted she took the money to satisfy repeated demands from an Ohio couple who allegedly were blackmailing her for money in exchange of a promise to not expose her extramarital relationship to her husband.
Wilson ordered Lough to serve one-to-10 years each for the two charges. The sentences will be served consecutively for an effective sentence of two-to-20 years. He then told public defender William Brogan to file for a Rule 35 reduction of sentence hearing after Lough completed six months behind bars. At that time, the remainder of the sentence could be suspended in lieu of probation.
Prosecutor Joseph Barki asked the judge to sentence Lough to consecutive one-to-10 years sentences, and then suspend the second one after successful completion of the first one. That would have made her eligible for parole in one year.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Brogan called several of Lough’s friends to testify about her character. Many testified Lough is a good person who made a bad decision. However, Bethany College President Scott D. Miller gave an impact statement on behalf of the college, citing the amount of work and hardship Lough caused the college…