The U.S. Attorney’s Office wants embattled District Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Kurt Pomrenke to prove he shouldn’t be found in criminal contempt for sharing materials from his wife’s trial with a state judicial panel.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court, federal prosecutors claim Pomrenke violated a court order in a March 16, 2016 letter he sent to the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission - some two weeks after Stacey Pomrenke’s conviction on federal corruption charges.
“Kurt Pomrenke’s disclosure of discovery materials to the JIRC violates the court’s order of Dec. 1, 2015. The government knows of no exemption or authorization that allowed Kurt Pomrenke to disclose any discovery materials to the JIRC or any other party,” according to the motion filed last Thursday.
The government asks that Pomrenke “be ordered to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court,” according to the motion. Attorneys for Pomrenke haven’t filed a response.
The state commission recently filed a formal complaint against Pomrenke for contacting two potential witnesses prior to his wife’s trial, including BVU Authority President and CEO Don Bowman.
In trial Judge James P. Jones’ Dec. 1, 2015 ruling, he approved allowing Kurt and Stacey Pomrenke to receive an electronic copy of trial evidence to review at home.
“As a member of the bar, the defendant’s husband undoubtedly understands that he must comply with any order prohibiting disclosure of the materials to others and that failure to comply may have severe consequences,” Jones wrote.
In his March 2016 letter to the judicial commission, Pomrenke divulged information from those materials to the commission.
“When I wrote the note to Bowman I did not know nor did I suspect Bowman was ‘cooperating with the government’ as [Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary] Lee asserted,” Pomrenke wrote. “At that time we had no idea of Bowman’s close continuing relationship with prosecutors [which we learned of in January when we received discovery that included dozens and dozens of emails between Bowman and Zachary Lee, including the Jan. 25 email from Bowman which I assumed started all of this.”
Federal prosecutors raised the issue of the judge’s note to Bowman in a Feb. 18, 2016 motion asking that Stacey Pomrenke’s bond be revoked – a request Judge Jones rejected. At that time, Lee said prosecutors believed the note was designed to “chill” Bowman’s cooperation and “intimidate” him.
At her August 2016 sentencing, Judge Jones found Stacey Pomrenke in contempt of court, but not her husband.
The judicial commission asked Bowman about his cooperation with federal officials when he testified during a June hearing regarding the charges against Kurt Pomrenke.
“I just was so involved with meetings with the U.S. attorney, FBI and the IRS agent on almost a daily or weekly basis, I was the point of contact for all of that,” Bowman told the commission. “At this point, we did not have in-house counsel, we waived our attorney-client privilege to assist them with the investigation, so they were constantly communicating with me and our outside counsel stayed basically on the sidelines, so it all pretty much flowed through me.”