Curtis Tate Published

Justice May Have State Wages Garnished To Repay $847,000 Bank Loan

Gov. Jim Justice clenches his fists before signing bills at the John Amos power plant, with his English bulldog, Babydog, sitting in a chair next to him.
Gov. Jim Justice speaks to workers at the John Amos Power Plant, accompanied by Babydog.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Update: March 29. 2023 9:30 a.m.

Statement from state Auditor J.B. McCuskey’s office: “When we receive a wage garnishment order issued by a court, it is processed as directed by applicable statutes, rules and regulations. This is done without regard to whom the order is directed, whether a state official or employee, including the governor.”

Original Story

Gov. Jim Justice defaulted on a loan and may forfeit a portion of his state wages to pay it back.

Citizens Bank of West Virginia filed a document last week in the Circuit Court of Randolph County in Elkins that says Justice owes the bank $861,000, including more than $13,000 in unpaid interest and a $27 application fee.

The notice orders the state Auditor to garnish 20 percent of Justice’s state wages after deduction of state and federal taxes, or the amount of his wages that exceed 50 times the federal hourly minimum wage.

Justice earns a $150,000 annual salary as governor. The wages will be withheld for a year unless the outstanding balance and interest is settled sooner, the document states.

Interest on the balance will accrue at 4 percent annually until the balance is paid.

The judgment was awarded on Oct. 18, and the interest penalty is as of March 14.

The judgment also names Bluestone Resources, a coal company Justice’s family owns.

The West Virginia Record reported last week that Citizens Bank loaned Bluestone more than $2.5 million in 2018 to purchase machinery and that Justice personally guaranteed the obligations. Citizens Bank accuses Justice and Bluestone of breach of contract. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include the statement from the state auditor’s office.