WSAZ - Local News and Breaking News Coverage for West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky

UPDATE: Plea Hearings Set for Former Mingo Prosecutor and Magistrate

By: jennifer Rizzi, Anna Baxter, Cathleen Moxley, Jeremy Edwards, Olivia Fecteau, The Associated Press Email
By: jennifer Rizzi, Anna Baxter, Cathleen Moxley, Jeremy Edwards, Olivia Fecteau, The Associated Press Email
More Video...

MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Those still in power in Mingo County say they're shocked by these new allegations and know that this will be a long process to regain the people's trust.

Since some of those implicated in this conspiracy have not yet been charged, there are questions about whether they will stay in office or resign.

Mingo County Sheriff James Smith, who was sworn in Tuesday, has already made some staffing changes, starting with Dave Rockel, the former Williamson police chief who worked as chief field deputy for the sheriff's department after Sheriff Crum's death. He says this decision was made before these new allegations came out, and that he replaced Rockel with Sgt. Joe Smith because Sgt. Smith was a better fit for the job.

"We have got to regain a lot of trust in the people," Sheriff Smith said Thursday. "People [are] going to distrust us and they're going to distrust the system that's let them down."

He added, "People [have] to realize that there's some good people in Mingo County and that we all can't be judged by the actions of a few."

Mingo County Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith also said Thursday that he was "dumbfounded" by the allegations, but that he would continue to work with all of the elected officials as long as they were in office. He said he plans to continue working to win back the trust of people in Mingo County.

"I don't want to speculate on the actions of others. All I can be accountable for is my own actions," Commissioner Smith said. "I'm going to do what I've always done in the past to make decisions that are above board, open and to the public and are in the best interests of the citizens of Mingo County."

Sheriff Smith said his department will do its best to cooperate with the FBI as they investigate the case.

WSAZ.com reached out to Prosecutor Michael Sparks and Chief Dave Rockel today to see if they had comments on the allegations. Sparks was not in his office and his staff tells WSAZ.com he does not have a comment at this time.

Commissioner Smith also noted that, while he is not sure of specific dollar amounts, some of the money involved in the drug deals alleged in the conspiracy is taxpayer money.

Sheriff Eugene Crum Warrant
Michael Sparks Information
Michael Sparks Resignation Letter
Dallas Toler Information
Dallas Toler Resignation Letter
Response to Sparks' Suspension Petition
Petition to Suspend Prosecutor Michael Sparks
9/19 Judge Thornsbury Information
Commissioner Baisden Indictment
Judge Thornsbury Indictment
Commissioner Baisden Letter

UPDATE 10/29/13 @ 1 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former Mingo County Prosecutor is expected to plea guilty to federal charges next month.

According to court records, a plea hearing has been set for Michael Sparks on November 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Sparks is accused in a scheme to protect the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs from a campaign sign-maker.

Another plea hearing has also been set for a Mingo County official in a separate federal case. Former Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler is expected to plead guilty at a hearing set for December 2, according to court records.

Toler is charged for registering a felon to vote in the 2012 primary election.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/22/13 @ 9:20 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors want a judge to schedule plea hearings for two former Mingo County officials charged in a corruption probe.

The motions filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston focus on former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former Magistrate Dallas Toler.

Sparks is accused in a scheme to protect Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs from a campaign sign-maker.

Prosecutors allege Sparks, former county Commissioner David Baisden and former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury offered a lighter sentence if sign-maker George White fired his lawyer and hired one they preferred.

Crum died in April in an unrelated shooting. White is serving one to 15 years under a plea agreement.

Toler is charged in a separate federal case with illegally registering a felon to vote in the 2012 primary election.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 10/17/13 @ 12:40 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- WSAZ.com has obtained federal documents that shed more light into an investigation concerning former Sheriff Eugene Crum.

Crum was shot and killed earlier this year in Mingo County, nearly four months after he took over as sheriff.

According to a search warrant that was unsealed Friday, the FBI was investigating the sheriff for several things, including taking money from a Mingo County doctor who is currently serving a prison sentence for running a pill mill.

Dr. Diane Shafer pleaded guilty in 2012 of writing thousands of prescriptions to patients she never examined for cash.

According to court records, Crum hired George White, a business owner in Delbarton, to make his campaign signs, but told him to see his associates for cash payment. According to the federal warrant, White claims Dr. Shafer "paid several thousand dollars in cash" for Crum's signs.

White also told investigators he believed Crum never reported these cash payments in support of his campaign.

The warrant also states that investigators believe Crum found out about the investigation and that White was giving the FBI information so he had White arrested during an undercover drug raid in February.

White also told investigators he illegally gave Crum prescription drugs.

The search warrant was filed on May 7 to search Crum's cellphone that was in the car with him when he was shot and killed. That phone remains in the custody of the West Virginia State Police where the investigation into his death continues, according to court records.

According to the search warrant, Crum was under investigation for a variety of criminal offenses, including mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and unlawfully possessing controlled substances.

WSAZ.com has requested Crum's campaign finance reports, but they were not immediately available.



UPDATE 10/11/13 @ 7:30 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been disbarred by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

This comes just days after he was charged in a corruption case and resigned from office.

Prosecutors say he took part in a scheme to protect the late Sheriff Eugene Crum's reputation by giving a drug supplier a more favorable plea deal.

The Supreme Court ruled that Sparks can not even try to get his law license back for at least five years.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/10/13 @ 3:50 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Less than 24 hours after Mingo County's prosecutor resigned, the county has named a temporary replacement.

During a special commission meeting Thursday, commissioners named Assistant Prosecutor Teresa Maynard as acting Prosecuting Attorney.

Maynard will replace Michael Sparks who resigned on Wednesday just before an federal information was filed against him.

According to the information, Sparks is accused of playing a role in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum's reputation by giving a drug supplier a more favorable plea deal. The defendant was asked to fire his attorney, who was giving information to federal investigators and the media about Crum's alleged wrongdoing, according to the information.

In Sparks' resignation letter, he wrote "Regrettably, I made a mistake in judgment and now accept the consequences. My attempt to prevent potential injury to the reputation and drug enforcement efforts of the late Sheriff Eugene Crum was unjustifiable. The end should never justify the means in criminal justice."

Maynard will serve as acting prosecutor for 30 days. Then, a permanent prosecutor will be named.

Commissioners say they are now accepting applications for the permanent replacement.

Meanwhile, a temporary replacement for Mingo County's Chief Magistrate has also been named.

The State Supreme Court appointed former Putnam County Magistrate Kim Blair to the position.

Dallas Toler resigned Wednesday after he was charged in a federal information. Toler is accused of submitting a voter registration application for a person on probation for a felony.

Blair will only serve until a permanent replacement is named. Court officials say that could take awhile because the county's circuit court judge would normally appoint Toler's replacement. However, that position is also empty right now because Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty to in a separate corruption case.

Blair worked as a Magistrate Judge in Putnam County from 2002 to 2012.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/10/13 @ 11:00 a.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Federal court officials are working to determine how to replace former Mingo County magistrate Dallas Toler.

Toler resigned Wednesday. He is accused of submitting a voter registration application for a person on probation for a felony.

April Harless, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, says former Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury would normally have appointed Toler's replacement.

But Thornsbury resigned earlier this month after pleading guilty to charges of abusing his power.

Thornsbury's vacancy leaves the question of who will now appoint Toler's replacement. Harless says it's the first time the Court of Appeals has been faced with this question.

She says officials are trying to figure out whether Thornsbury's replacement, senior judge John Cummings, or his appointed help, former State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McHugh, should step in to appoint the new magistrate.

As of now, Harless says there is not a time frame scheduled for the decision.

But she says the county's current caseload will not suffer in the meantime as its two other magistrates on-duty will take on more cases.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updates.

UPDATE 10/9/13 @ 9 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Mingo County Prosecutor and the county's Chief Magistrate are the latest to face criminal charges related to corruption in Mingo County.

In a federal information filed Wednesday, Michael Sparks is accused of playing a role in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum's reputation by giving a drug supplier a more favorable plea deal. The defendant was asked to fire his attorney, who was giving information to federal investigators and the media about Crum's alleged wrongdoing, according to the information.

Crum is accused of being involved in a drug buy from a local sign maker, according to court records.

According to the information, "Sparks' cooperation in this regard was necessary to the scheme's success."

Just before the information was filed in federal court, Sparks resigned from his position as the county's prosecutor.

In his resignation letter, Sparks writes "Regrettably, I made a mistake in judgment and now accept the consequences. My attempt to prevent potential injury to the reputation and drug enforcement efforts of the late Sheriff Eugene Crum was unjustifiable. The end should never justify the means in criminal justice."

Mingo County's former Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty last week in connection with this crime. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he sentenced in January.

As part of his plea agreement, Thornsbury resigned from his circuit court judge position and his law license was also taken away.

Meanwhile, an information was also filed against Chief Magistrate Dallas L. Toler on Wednesday. Toler is accused of submitting a voter registration application for a person on probation for a felony.

Toler also resigned from his post Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says people in Mingo County should not lose faith in their government.

"What they should not do is despair, take this as a hopeless situation," Goodwin said. "They should take this as an opportunity to get engaged and transform their government into a government for the people by the people."

Dr. Richard Duncan works in the Mingo school system. He says it's hard for people to feel optimistic about the future.

"With the jobs we've lost in the coal industry, whatever we're going to try to do to reverse that, if our leadership isn't where it needs to be, there's no way we can get there," Duncan said.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/9/13 @ 3:30 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two more elected officials in Mingo County have resigned.

Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler and Prosecutor Michael Sparks are both resigning, Wednesday

The WV Supreme Court confirms that Toler has already resigned.

In a resignation letter, Sparks says his resignation is effective 11:59:59, Wednesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/9/13 @ 10:40 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Two former Mingo County officials convicted of federal charges could lose their public employee pensions.

A state law requires the Consolidated Public Retirement Board to withhold payment or contributions for any elected official found guilty of a crime.

Board attorney Jeaneen Legato says she plans to ask the board to disqualify former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and former County Commissioner David Baisden from receiving pensions.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty last week to charges that he, Baisden and other officials conspired to protect the reputation of the late Sheriff Eugene Crum by jailing a man who sold Crum drugs.

Baisden pleaded guilty last week to an unrelated extortion charge.

Legato says the retirement board would meet in January to discuss the men's pensions.



UPDATE 10/7/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Despite saying he would wait until his sentencing in January to resign, Mingo County Commissioner Dave Baisden is already stepping down.

Baisden has pleaded guilty to an extortion charge. He admits to cutting off business with a tire company when they refused to sell him personal tires at the county's discounted price.

That ended up costing that business tens of thousands of dollars.

Baisden said in a release Monday that he has always tried to serve the people in a way to make them proud.

“It was never my intention to do anything to put Mingo County in a negative light.” Baisden said. “I love this county and I love the people. I continue to want to do what is best for them.”

There are now two empty elected offices in Mingo County.

Along with Baisden, Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury also resigned after being charged in a separate case of political corruption.

WSAZ.com checked with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office to see how those positions will be filled.

Officials there say because both men resigned before Feb. 19, both seats will be on the next primary ballot.

We caught up with voters about the qualities they want to see in whoever fills those roles.

“A lot of people hope to see a judge who will stay out of politics and perform his judicial duties -- and that be the extent of it,” Jeremy Blankenship, a voter, said. “Also, to have a commissioner that will be more apt to help everyone and not just the ones he wants to help for personal gain.”

“We ain't got no faith in the courthouse no more. It's all crooked,” Homer Hite, a voter, said. “They need to get somebody honest.”

Those elected will complete the unexpired terms for Baisden and Thornsbury.

There is no word at this point about interim replacements for the two offices.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/7/13 @ 4:30 p.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) - A Mingo County commissioner who pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge has stepped down.

Commissioner David Baisden announced his resignation in a letter Monday. His resignation is effective immediately.

Baisden pleaded guilty in federal court last week to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount in 2009, then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.

In his letter, Baisden apologized for putting Mingo County in a bad light. He also touted his efforts to bring public water options to county residents since first taking office in January 2007.

As part of his plea agreement, Baisden agreed to step down before he's sentenced Jan. 14. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 10/2/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ & AP) -- A suspended Mingo County judge has pleaded guilty to conspiracy just hours after he resigned from his position.

Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Charleston. Hours earlier, Thornsbury submitted a resignation letter. His attorney, Stephen Jory, also said the judge consented to disbarment in a letter to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston scheduled sentencing for Jan. 13. Thornsbury faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Thornsbury was accused of participating in a scheme to protect the reputation of Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs from a campaign sign-maker.

In exchange, prosecutors said they would dismiss charges in a separate case in which Thornsbury's accused of framing his former secretary's husband.

Crum's wife attended Thornsbury's hearing on Wednesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/2/13 @ 12:20 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The attorney for a suspended Mingo County judge says his client has resigned from the bench.

Federal prosecutors say Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury is expected to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

Attorney Steve Jory says that Thornsbury submitted a resignation letter to the state Supreme Court.

Thornsbury also has consented to disbarment in a letter to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

Thornsbury is accused of participating in a scheme to protect the reputation of Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs from a campaign sign-maker.

Prosecutors allege Thornsbury and others offered a lighter sentence if the man fired his lawyer and hired one they preferred.

Crum died in April in an unrelated shooting.



UPDATE 10/1/13 @ 5:25 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Mingo County commissioner has pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge.

David Baisden entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Charleston.

Baisden faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Jan. 14, 2014.

"This shows you that elected officials have to play by the same set of rules as everybody else," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. " What commissioner Baisden did is he abused his power to shake down an honest business for special favors."

The 66-year-old Baisden admitted to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount, and then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.

As a result, the tire company lost tens of thousands of dollars.

Under the plea agreement, Baisden can never seek an elected office again, and must resign from the commission.

Baisden told WSAZ.com after his hearing that he will not resign until the day of his sentencing.

"I love them and I want them to continue to pray for me," Baisden said about the people of Mingo County.

Baisden would not comment on another case of corruption that he has been named in. He, along with several other elected officials, are accused of conspiring with Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury to frame a man whom the late Sheriff Eugene Crum owed money for election signs.

Thornsbury is expected to plead guilty Wednesday in that case.

Prosecutors allege he conspired with the others to imprison the man -- who had sold drugs to Sheriff Eugene Crum, who died in April in an unrelated shooting.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/1/13 @ 8:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A Mingo County commissioner is due in federal court for a plea hearing on an extortion charge.

Federal prosecutors say David Baisden is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

The 66-year-old commissioner is accused of trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount, then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.

Mingo County Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith has said Baisden will resign from the commission as part of his plea deal.

Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury is expected to plead guilty Wednesday in a separate case in federal court.

Prosecutors allege he conspired with others to imprison a man who had sold drugs to Sheriff Eugene Crum. Crum died in April in an unrelated shooting.

Keep clikcing on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/30/13
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The former secretary of a suspended Mingo County judge says he pursued her relentlessly, professed his love in a letter and tried to pressure her into having sex with him - first bad-mouthing and then attempting to frame her husband for false crimes.

Kim Woodruff and husband Robert filed separate lawsuits Monday against suspended Judge Michael Thornsbury after mediation attempts failed.

An attorney for Thornsbury didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thornsbury is expected to plead guilty to a separate conspiracy on Wednesday.

Woodruff attorney Mike Callaghan's lawsuits target the judge and the friends and law enforcement officers who allegedly helped him try to frame Robert Woodruff.

Kim Woodruff alleges sexual harassment, wrongful termination, negligence and the deliberate infliction of emotional distress.



UPDATE 9/26/13 @ 10:25 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Office of Disciplinary Counsel says embattled Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks lied to the state Supreme Court when he said last week that he didn't know about alleged corruption by a now-suspended circuit judge.

The group's third complaint, filed late Wednesday, again demands suspension of Sparks' law license.

It says Sparks admitted to the FBI that he knew about crimes and misconduct that federal prosecutors say Judge Michael Thornsbury has committed.

In one case, federal prosecutors say Thornsbury tried to frame a romantic rival for false crimes.

He's expected to plead guilty next week in a second case that was aimed at protecting a former sheriff's reputation by putting a drug supplier in prison.

Sparks maintained his innocence Thursday in a response filed by his attorney, Lonnie Simmons.



UPDATE 9/25/13 @ 10:40 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) -- Commissioner David Baisden, a suspect in a political corruption investigation in Mingo County, is expected to step down soon.

Baisden is expected to plead guilty to a federal extortion charge and step down from his position as commissioner.

A plea hearing is set Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Charleston.

Baisden is accused of pulling a local tire dealer's contract with the county when they refused to give him a personal discount. He is expected to resign from the commission as part of his plea deal.

He has been free on bond.



UPDATE 9/24/13 @ 10:50 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury has agreed to plead guilty in the second conspiracy case brought against him last week, and they'll drop charges in the first case when he does.

A motion filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston on Tuesday asks Judge Thomas Johnston to indefinitely postpone the current filing deadlines in one case against Thornsbury.

Prosecutors say Thornsbury tried repeatedly to frame a romantic rival for false crimes.

Last week, prosecutors charged Thornsbury in a second schemed designed to protect the reputation of a former sheriff who prosecutors say had bought drugs from a local sign maker.

Sheriff Eugene Crum died in an unrelated shooting in April.

Thornsbury's attorney has declined comment on either set of charges.



UPDATE 9/20/13 @ 8:10 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- People in Mingo County are still buzzing following new details released in a federal document that involve drugs, cover-ups, coercions, and secret meetings.

The people listed in the information document charging Judge Michael Thornsbury with conspiracy were Commissioner David Basiden, former Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel, Prosecutor Michael Sparks and slain Sheriff Eugene Crum.

The document says Thornsbury abused his power to coerce a defendant to switch attorney's in exchange for a lighter sentence. The defendant was allegedly sharing information with federal investigators that Sheriff Eugene Crum illegally obtained prescription pills from the defendant.

WSAZ.com spoke Friday with Crum's widow Rosie. She obviously has a lot that she wants to say about the situation but was advised by her attorney not to answer questions at this time.

Crum directed WSAZ.com to her lifelong friend Dottie Estep who owns the diner just down the road from where she and Rosie grew up and still live.

Dottie said that that this is a troubling time for her friend of more than 50 years and this new information is adding difficulty to an already difficult grieving process.

In the meantime, embattled Prosecutor Michael Sparks is firing back after the Office of Displinary Council petitioned the state Supreme Court revoke his license to practice law.

It comes after Sparks was named in the federal information against Thornsbury.

In the lengthy document, Sparks says he did nothing wrong and continues to impartially practice law.

You can read the document by clicking on the link at the top of this page.

On his Facebook page, in several different posts, Sparks wrote:

"Thornsbury is a sinister, vindictive womanizer that abused the powers of his judgeship in multiple attempts to falsely incriminate a romantic rival. There is evidence that Thornsbury has engaged in other criminal and unethical activity. I expected to be a target of false incrimination and vengeance since I substantially assisted the federal investigation of Thornsbury."

"Although I have not been charged with any crime, I look forward to aggressively defending my integrity and refuting these unfounded accusations."

“Remember Thornsbury's feigned tears as he performed for the cameras at the late Sheriff Eugene Crum's memorial service. Now Thornsbury cowardly accuses Sheriff Crum when Crum can no longer defend himself. Thornsbury's narcissism and dishonesty are beyond measure. I am praying for Rosie and the entire Crum family who have done nothing to deserve Thornsbury's betrayal.”



UPDATE 9/19/13 @ 12:45 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Mingo County Commissioner says he's stunned by new allegations listed in a federal document that the late Sheriff Eugene Crum may have been involved with drugs.

County Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith tells WSAZ.com he never knew Crum to be a user of pharmaceutical drugs. Smith says Crum wanted to get rid of the drugs in Mingo County.

The allegations against Crum stem from an information that was filed in federal court on Thursday.

Suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was charged with one count of conspiracy.

According to the information, a Mingo County drug suspect, identified as G.W., was providing the FBI information about misconduct by the late Sheriff Eugene Crum, including illegal drug use and election law violations.

G.W. owned a sign-making business in Delbarton. He had been hired by several political candidates in Mingo County, including Crum to make signs and other promotional items for their campaigns.

Crum ordered thousands of dollars worth of signs when he was running for sheriff in 2012. However, when G.W. went to Crum to collect $3,000 he still owed him, prosecutors say instead of paying the debt, Crum arranged for a confidential police informant to attempt to purchase three oxycodone tablets from G.W.

Investigators say Crum signed a police report documenting the drug deal along with then-Williamson police chief Dave Rockel. They say Crum and Rockel jointly obtained a warrant to search G.W.'s business.

G.W. was later indicted for possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver.

After G.W. was arrested, he met with the FBI and told investigators that on several occasions he provided Crum with prescription narotic pills at Crum's request, according to the information. G.W. claimed the deliveries took place when Crum was a Mingo County Magistrate.

Federal prosecutors say Crum learned that G.W., along with G.W.’s attorney, were providing information about him to the FBI. That's when prosecutors say Crum, along with Judge Thornsbury, Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks and County Commissioner David Baisden, conspired to protect Crum by stopping G.W. from having further communication with the FBI. According to the information, the group arranged to offer G.W. a favorable plea deal on the drug charge if he would fire his attorney, who was helping the FBI, and replace him with an attorney chosen by Crum and the other elected officials.

The information states that G.W. did fire his attorney and Thornsbury approved a new attorney to represent G.W.

It's unclear whether Rockel, Prosecutor Sparks, or Commissioner Baisden will be charged in this case.

Baisden is already facing a federal charge in an unrelated case.

"I'm going to do what I've always done in the past and make decisions in the best interest of the people in the county," Commissioner Smith said. "

Ex-Sheriff Crum died in an April when he was shot and killed during his lunch break. On Wednesday, Prosecutor Sparks announced he was recusing himself from that case citing a conflict of interest.

Sparks was not the first person to step down from this case.
Before Thornsbury's first arrest, he removed himself saying it was because of his close friendship with Sheriff Crum.

Meanwhile, Thornsbury still faces separate corruption charges. Prosecutors say he abused his power to try to frame a romantic rival for false crimes: Thornsbury had an affair with his secretary and tried to frame her husband between 2008 and 2012 after she ended things.

WSAZ.com put in a request to speak with Prosecutor Sparks on Thursday, but his secretary says he was unavailable and does not have a comment at this time.

"I've always had full faith and confidence in Michael Sparks as a chief law enforcement officer of Mingo county," Smith said. "I am stunned to hear of any allegation of him conspiring with anyone, Mr. Sparks has always been honest and forthright to me and in my dealings with Mr. Sparks."

Smith says he will continue to work with all elected officials while in office.

Investigators say there is no word yet on whether Sparks, Baisden or Rockel will be charged in connection with the conspiracy.

The current Mingo County Sheriff James Smith tells WSAZ.com Rockel is no longer employed with the sheriff's department. On Tuesday, Smith appointed Sgt. Joe Smith as Chief Field Deputy. That was the position held by Rockel.

Smith says Rockel's exit had nothing to do with the federal information that was filed Thursday.

WSAZ.com tried to contact Rockel, but our calls were not returned before the publication of this article.

Baisden has not resigned from his commission seat.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/19/13 @ 11:15 a.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ & AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Mingo County judge conspired with a prosecutor, county commissioner and now-deceased sheriff to stop a confidential informant from feeding the FBI information about his drug deals with the sheriff.

Suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was charged Thursday with one count of conspiracy. The charge was filed through an information, which often means a suspect is cooperating and may plead guilty.

According to the information filed Thursday, a Mingo County drug suspect, identified as G.W., was providing the FBI information about misconduct by the late Sheriff Eugene Crum, including illegal drug use and election law violations.

G.W. owned a sign-making business in Delbarton. He had been hired by several political candidates in Mingo County, including Crum to make signs and other promotional items for their campaigns.

Crum ordered thousands of dollars worth of signs when he was running for sheriff in 2012. However, when G.W. went to Crum to collect $3,000 he still owed him, prosecutors say instead of paying the debt, Crum arranged for a confidential police informant to attempt to purchase three oxycodone tablets from G.W.

Investigators say Crum signed a police report documenting the drug deal along with then-Williamson police chief Dave Rockel. They say Crum and Rockel jointly obtained a warrant to search G.W.'s business.

G.W. was later indicted for possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver.

After G.W. was arrested, he met with the FBI and told investigators that on several occasions he provided Crum with prescription narotic pills at Crum's request, according to the information. G.W. claimed the deliveries took place when Crum was a Mingo County Magistrate.

Federal prosecutors say Crum learned that G.W., along with G.W.’s attorney, were providing information about him to the FBI. That's when prosecutors say Crum, along with Judge Thornsbury, Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks and County Commissioner David Baisden, conspired to protect Crum by stopping G.W. from having further communication with the FBI. According to the information, the group arranged to offer G.W. a favorable plea deal on the drug charge if he would fire his attorney, who was helping the FBI, and replace him with an attorney chosen by Crum and the other elected officials.

The information states that G.W. did fire his attorney and Thornsbury approved a new attorney to represent G.W.

It's unclear whether Prosecutor Sparks and Commissioner Baisden will be charged in this case.

Baisden is already facing a federal charge in an unrelated case.

County Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith held a press conference Thursday morning. Smith says he is stunned at the allegations and never knew Crum to be a drug user.

Ex-Sheriff Crum died in an April when he was shot and killed during his lunch break. On Wednesday, Prosecutor Sparks announced he was recusing himself from that case citing a conflict of interest.

Sparks was not the first person to step down from this case.
Before Thornsbury's first arrest, he removed himself saying it was because of his close friendship with Sheriff Crum.

Meanwhile, Thornsbury still faces separate corruption charges. Prosecutors say he abused his power to try to frame a romantic rival for false crimes: Thornsbury had an affair with his secretary and tried to frame her husband between 2008 and 2012 after she ended things.

WSAZ.com put in a request to speak with Prosecutor Sparks on Thursday, but his secretary says he was unavailable and does not have a comment at this time.

Investigators say there is no word yet on whether Sparks, Baisden or Rockel will be charged in connection with the conspiracy.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Mingo County judge conspired with a prosecutor, county commissioner and now-deceased sheriff to stop a confidential informant from feeding the FBI information about his drug deals with the sheriff.

Suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was charged Thursday with one count of conspiracy. The filing of an information signals he's cooperating and may plead guilty.

It's unclear whether Prosecutor Michael Sparks and Commissioner Dave Baisden will be charged.

Ex-Sheriff Eugene Crum died in an April shooting apparently unrelated to the conspiracy.

Thornsbury already faces separate corruption charges.

Prosecutors say he abused his power to try to frame a romantic rival for false crimes: Thornsbury had an affair with his secretary and tried to frame her husband between 2008 and 2012 after she ended things.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/18/13 @ 10:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a Mingo County Commissioner charged with extortion has agreed to plead guilty.

Prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston requesting a plea hearing for Dave Baisden.

Judge John Copenhaver didn't immediately set a hearing date. Baisden's trial had been scheduled for Oct. 21.

The 66-year-old Baisden is accused of trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount, then terminating the county's contract with Appalachian Tire when the company refused to cooperate.

The Mingo County Commission has removed Baisden as the county's purchasing agent. He has not resigned as a commissioner.

Sources also tell WSAZ.com that Judge Michael Thornsbury is working with investigators.

He is accused of trying to frame his mistress' husband on drug, grand larceny and assault charges.

Sources say he is also working on a plea with and the details should be worked out by the end of the week.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 9/5/13 @ 8 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) -- Amid calls for their resignations, Mingo County's prosecutor and a county commissioner say they won't step down.

Prosecutor Michael Sparks and Commissioner Greg "Hootie" Smith also say they are continuing to cooperate with a federal investigation in the county.

The officials' statements came Wednesday in response to residents' calls for their resignations during a County Commission meeting.

In August, a federal grand jury charged Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury with trying to frame the husband of his secretary for several crimes. Commissioner Dave Baisden was charged in a separate case with extortion.

There also is a state investigation of alleged election law violations in the county.



UPDATE 8/30/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks is being investigated by a lawyer disciplinary office for what he says is his knowledge of the conduct of a judge facing federal charges.

A Charleston newspaper reports the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel is investigating Sparks.

A federal grand jury has charged Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury with two conspiracy counts. Thornsbury is accused of having an affair with his secretary and trying to frame her husband for several crimes, including drug possession, larceny and assault.

State counsel chief attorney Rachael Cipoletti declined to say why Sparks is being investigated. But Sparks points to the federal indictment that says he knew of the affair.

State Bar rules require attorneys to report judicial misconduct.

Sparks has defended his failure to report Thornsbury.



UPDATE 8/28/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The lawyer for the husband and wife allegedly wronged by Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and other officials says they are ready to file a list of civil lawsuits.

Attorney Mike Callaghan told a Charleston newspaper he sent notices to several public agencies informing them of planned lawsuits on behalf of Robert and Kim Woodruff.

State law requires anyone planning to sue a state agency to give notice 30 days before filing.

Callaghan said he sent notices to the state Supreme Court, the Mingo County Commission, State Police and the city of Gilbert.

Federal prosecutors claim Thornsbury had an affair with his secretary and tried to frame her husband for several crimes, including drug possession, larceny and assault.

Thornsbury was indicted earlier this month.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/21/13 @ 10:45 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two elected officials were in court Wednesday morning in connection with two separate corruption cases.

Mingo County Circuit Court Judge, Michael Thornsbury pleaded not guilty with two counts of conspiracy.

He's accused of having an affair with his secretary and trying to frame her husband for several crimes, including drug possession, larceny and assault.

Thornsbury will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on September 26th.

His trial has been set for October 15th.

County Commissioner David Baisden pleaded not guilty to extortion.

He's accused of pulling a local dealer's county contract when he refused to provide Baisden with discounted tires.

Baisden resigned Wednesday morning as purchasing agent for the county, but did not resign from his seat on the commission. He says the reason he didn't resign as commissioner is because he's innocent. "I was elected by the people of Mingo County and will continue to be their commissioner unless something happens in court. I don't see I've done anything to lose their trust."

He says he and Thornsbury have known each other for years. "We've been friends. I've worked for him through the judge-work program for the last seven years."

Baisden told WSAZ he had one message for Mingo County: "I would just like to say to the people of Mingo County. Thank you for your support and your prayers and we'll settle this in court."

He will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on September 20th.

His trial has been set for October 21st.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/21/13 @ 9:25 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Mingo County Commission is having their first meeting since two county officials were indicted on federal charges.

Last week, County Commissioner David Baisden was charged with extortion.

He's accused of pulling a local dealer's county contract when he refused to provide Baisden with discounted tires.

Baisden resigned Wednesday morning as purchasing agent for the county, but did not resign from his seat on the commission.

Mingo County Judge Michael Thornsbury is also facing federal charges in a separate political corruption case.

A federal grand jury charged Thornsbury with two counts of conspiracy. He's accused of having an affair with his secretary and trying to frame her husband for several crimes, including drug possession, larceny and assault.

Director of Homeland Security in Mingo County, Jarrod Fletcher, was named in the indictment but not charged. He is accused of helping Thornsbury in the scheme.

Fletcher was suspended without pay indefinitely at Wednesday morning's commission meeting.

Baisden and Thornsbury are being arraigned in federal court at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

We have a crew in the commission meeting and in the court hearing.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/20/13 @ 11 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Mingo County Judge Michael Thornsbury and County Commissioner Dave Baisden are set to be arraigned U.S. District Court in Charleston Wednesday morning.

Last week a federal grand jury charged Thornsbury with two counts of conspiracy. He's accused of having an affair with his secretary and trying to frame her husband for several crimes, including drug possession, larceny and assault.

Baisden was charged with extortion in an unrelated federal case. He's accused of pulling a local dealer's county contract when he refused to provide Baisden with discounted tires.

Thornsbury was suspended by the state Supreme Court without pay following his indictment. The court also suspended his law license.

Both men are free on bond. The hearings are set for 10 a.m.

Also Wednesday, the Mingo County Commission will hold its first meeting since the indictments.

Sources tell WSAZ.com that Baisden will resign as purchasing agent for the county. He's not expected to resign as commissioner, though.

The commission will also discuss the future of Jarrod Fletcher who is the director of Mingo county Homeland Security. He also was named in the indictment as helping Judge Michael Thornsbury frame his secretary's husband.

That meeting starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/20/13 @ 2 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) - Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks is defending not reporting the conduct of a judge who now faces federal charges.

Sparks says he was working in what he calls an intimidating environment. He says it's difficult to get a judicial officer fired.

"What I can say is I have assisted in supporting the federal investigation and continue to do so," Sparks said. "However, because I am a witness in the case, it would be imprudent and improper for me to specifically discuss the case publicly."

Last week, Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury was indicted on two conspiracy counts. Thornsbury is accused of having an affair with his secretary and trying to frame her husband for several crimes, including larceny and assault.

The indictment says Sparks intervened in the larceny case because he recognized that the charges were improper. He also dismissed the assault charges.

State Bar President Harry Dietzler says a prosecutor would want to be sure of the facts before accusing a judge of illegal conduct.

After a hearing for the man accused of killing Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, WSAZ spoke with Prosecutor Sparks.

We asked him if he was a whistleblower in the case. He said, "What I can say is I have assisted in supporting the federal investigation and continue to do so. However because I am a witness in the case it would be imprudent and improper for me to specifically discuss the case publicly."

Sparks says he will not step down from the Tennis Maynard case due to the indictments.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/19/13 @ 11 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A case of political corruption is causing a domino effect in the county’s court system.

Mingo County's only circuit judge, Michael Thornsbury, was criminally charged last week.

He's accused of trying to frame his secretary's husband -- after she ended an affair with him. Thornsbury is also accused of trying to rig a grand jury in order to criminally charge the husband.

While facing those charges, Thornsbury is off the bench, and he's leaving behind much more work than what's on the docket.

“We intend to review those cases,” Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks said about cases involving State Trooper Brandon Moore and Jarrod Fletcher.

Fletcher is the judge’s close friend and business partner, a relationship that crossed the line in the courtroom.

Investigators say the judge wanted to get his mistress's husband out of the way and behind bars, so he appointed Fletcher as a grand jury foreperson to help make that happen.

State Trooper Brandon Moore is accused of filing a false complaint leading to the husband's arrest.

It’s a convoluted scheme that’s now raising questions about if there are more cases that need a second look. Mark Curry says he's living proof.

“The judge had personally asked me to endorse him on the radio,” Curry said.

Not long after he refused, Curry says was arrested by Trooper Moore for DUI, even though all tests were negative.

“I was kept on the side of the road for about an hour,” Curry said. “It was just a terrible experience.”

Curry's case made its way through the system, and ultimately the charges were dropped. However, attorney Tim Koontz says that wasn't the case for some of his clients.

“I'm gonna aggressively look at every one of those cases,” Koontz said. “I consider it my duty to every one of them.”

He plans to reopen several prior cases, particularly one where his client's home was searched by Trooper Moore without a warrant, and the warrant was then signed hours later by the judge.

“Now more than ever, of course we would be open to discussing cases if credible evidence comes forward,” Sparks said.

More than 100 prior cases are now resurfacing as the investigation into the judge remains far from closed.

Sparks says he doesn't anticipate a different outcome in many of the cases, but says it's his office's duty to give them a second look.

He also says the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will be reviewing all of Judge Thornsbury's cases.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/16/13 @ 9:45 p.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The case against a Mingo County Judge and a former State Trooper of the Year have some in Mingo County wondering if past cases could be in jeopardy.

“It's been a tumultuous situation,” Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks said. “It has made work difficult. Tensions have been high.”

In addition to Thursday's arrests, former State Trooper of the Year Brandon Moore is accused of helping frame the husband of Judge Thornsbury's secretary.

In 2009, Moore was responsible for 37 drug investigations which ended with the arrests of 60 people. We asked Sparks if those cases could be in jeopardy.

“If evidence comes forward, credible evidence that there may have been fraud committed before the grand jury or improper evidence, then we would certainly take a look at the case,” Sparks said.

At this point, though, Sparks says nothing suspicious has arisen. But more cases than those could be in question. Local defense attorney Charles West says with the corruption in Judge Thornsburys office, he worries about whether his past clients were treated fairly.

“It's a sad experience because people may have been punished unjustifiably,” local attorney Charles West said. “And that to me would be a travesty.”

So he's getting ready to dig in.

“I don't know for a fact that I would have any cases that would apply, but I'm going to look at them,” West said.

He's not the only one who is suspicious. Folks we spoke with wouldn't go on camera, but said they are going to have a hard time trusting their elected officials.

“Unfortunately this is another black eye on Mingo County,” Sparks said.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/16/13 @ 9:15 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The attorney of two victims named in a federal indictment against Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury has released a statement.

Thornsbury is charged with abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury in a failed attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes.

Thursday evening, attorney Michael O. Callaghan released the following statement:
"It was my honor to represent RW through both frivolous criminal cases. While I was successful in getting both charges dismissed, my client should never have been placed under the stress of being charged criminally, nor should he have spent time in jail for crimes he did not commit. When the allegations came to light today that the charges were bogus and the work of Judge Thornsbury for personal gain, my client was both shocked and saddened.

I represent both RW and KW as they begin the process of putting their lives back together and seek their own justice. At this time, my clients are unwilling to make any public statements or do any interviews.

I applaud the efforts of the United States Attorney's Office for seeking justice in what appears to be a terrible abuse of a public office."

WSAZ stopped by the home of the victims Thursday evening. They did not answer the door.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 7:40 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Supreme Court of Appeals in West Virginia handed down two major decisions Thursday, after the indictment of Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury.

Thornsbury is charged with abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury in a failed attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes.

Thursday evening, the Court of Appeals announced that they voted to suspend Judge Thornsbury without pay. They also voted to suspend his law license.

Senior Status Judge John L. Cummings of Cabell County to serve in Mingo County during Judge Thornsbury’s suspension. Senior Status Supreme Court Justice Thomas E. McHugh will assist as needed to ensure abuse and neglect, domestic violence, juvenile, and other emergency issues are handled without delay.

Both judges will start Friday morning.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two elected officials in Mingo County are facing federal charges after a lengthy investigation.

Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury has been charged with abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury in a failed attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes.

Thornsbury is charged with conspiracy against a person's rights in a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

Prosecutors say Thornsbury was having an affair with his secretary and when she tried to end it, he tried to frame her husband to eliminate the competition.

The conspiracy included an attempt to plant drugs on the man and to get a trooper to file a false larceny complaint.

Earlier Thursday, County Commissioner Dave Baisden was arrested and charged in an unrelated indictment with misusing his public office.

According to a federal indictment that was unsealed Thursday, the Mingo County Commission bought tires from Appalachian Tire for county vehicles between 2007 and June 2009.

Appalachian Tire sold the tires at a special government price that was substantially below regular retail price.

According to the indictment, Baisden wanted tires purchased at the special rate for his and his wife's personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire refused to sell the tires at the discounted price.

According to the indictment, Baisden left Appalachian Tire a voicemail on June 12, 2009, threatening the commission would stop buying tires from the company if he did not get the special rate for the tires he needed for his personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire did not respond and did not sell Baisden the tires at the special discounted rate.

Also released in the indictment, on June 15, 2009, Baisden called Appalachian Tire again and told the company the county commission would no longer buy tires and they switched to another supplier.

The West Virginia State Supreme Court announced Thursday afternoon that they have named two judges to take over the case load for a judge who was arrested on a federal indictment.

The high court has selected Judge John Cummings from Cabell County to take over Thornsbury's cases.

Supreme Court Justice Thomas McHugh from Kanawha County will assist as needed to ensure abuse and neglect, domestic violence, juvenile, and other emergency issues are handled without delay

Both Judge Cummings and Justice McHugh have agreed and are prepared to begin work in Mingo County at 9 a.m. on Friday, August 16.

A West Virginia State Trooper is on paid administrative leave following the indictment of Thornsbury.

According to the indictment, Trooper Brandon Moore is accused of engaging in official misconduct at Judge Thornsbury's request.

The West Virginia State Police have launched an internal investigation into Moore's role in the crimes.

Moore will stay off the job until the investigation is complete.

The West Virginia Troopers Association named Moore as the state's 2009 Trooper of the Year.

The indictment has been the talk of the town in Mingo County.

Neighbors tell WSAZ.com, it's about time the public knew what's going on behind closed doors.

"This town has been corrupt from when I can remember," says Mingo County resident, Dennis Pennington. That's a common feeling in Mingo County, after two elected officials are hit with federal charges.

John L. May agrees. "It's about time something's been done. I think it's been a long wait."

Waiting to hear if the rumors were really true. For many, it's a disappointment.

"I expect more out of them because they're out leaders. It's bad enough for the regular citizens, the people in town doing things that's not right, but when the people are representing us, it's very upsetting," May adds.

People we spoke to here believe the truth about what's happened with certain local leaders is just starting to come out. "It didn't surprise me, but there's probably more to come," Pennington says.

But we also came across people who were ready to defend their leaders including Jimmy Whitaker who knows County Commissioner David Baisden personally. "I'm shocked of it. I believe there's more to the story that hasn't come out yet."

Though many are feeling betrayal, there's also a sense of relief that this may be what the county needs to start over. "Get the corrupt ones out and let's get somebody in there that's honest and do the right thing," says Pennington. May adds, "it's time they come to some sort of conclusion and start working forward, quit looking to the past, and have Williamson the town it once was."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 4:35 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A West Virginia State Trooper is on paid administrative leave after the indictment of a Mingo County Circuit Court Judge.

Trooper Brandon Moore is accused of engaging in official misconduct at Judge Michael Thornsbury's request.

A federal indictment came down on Judge Thornsbury on Thursday.

State Police have launched an internal investigation into Moore's role in the crimes.

Moore will stay off the job until the investigation is complete.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 3:35 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The West Virginia State Supreme Court announced Thursday afternoon that they have named two judges to take over the case load for a judge who was arrested on a federal indictment.

The high court has selected Judge John Cummings from Cabell County to take over Thornsbury's cases.

Supreme Court Justice Thomas McHugh from Kanawha County will assist as needed to ensure abuse and neglect, domestic violence, juvenile, and other emergency issues are handled without delay

Both Judge Cummings and Justice McHugh have agreed and are prepared to begin work in Mingo County at 9 a.m. on Friday, August 16.

Thornsbury, a circuit court judge in Mingo County, was arrested on federal charges Thursday. He is accused of abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury in a failed attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes.

Also arrested Thursday, Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden. Baisden is facing a federal charge of misusing his public office to try to get a discount on tires for his personal vehicles.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 1:45 p.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After a lengthy investigation, two elected officials in Mingo County are facing criminal charges.

Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury has been charged with abusing his power and commandeering a grand jury in a failed attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes.

Thornsbury is charged with conspiracy against a person's rights in a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

Prosecutors say Thornsbury was having an affair with his secretary and when she tried to end it, he tried to frame her husband to eliminate the competition.

The conspiracy included an attempt to plant drugs on the man and to get a trooper to file a false larceny complaint.

Earlier Thursday, County Commissioner Dave Baisden was arrested and charged in an unrelated indictment with misusing his public office.

According to a federal indictment that was unsealed Thursday, the Mingo County Commission bought tires from Appalachian Tire for county vehicles between 2007 and June 2009.

Appalachian Tire sold the tires at a special government price that was substantially below regular retail price.

According to the indictment, Baisden wanted tires purchased at the special rate for his and his wife's personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire refused to sell the tires at the discounted price.

According to the indictment, Baisden left Appalachian Tire a voicemail on June 12, 2009, threatening the commission would stop buying tires from the company if he did not get the special rate for the tires he needed for his personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire did not respond and did not sell Baisden the tires at the special discounted rate.

Also released in the indictment, on June 15, 2009, Baisden called Appalachian Tire again and told the company the county commission would no longer buy tires and they switched to another supplier.

Calls to the County Commission office went unanswered, and a secretary in the prosecutor's office said no one was available to comment.

Prosecutor Michael Sparks is out this week for a family funeral.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 1:45 p.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After a lengthy investigation, two elected officials in Mingo County are facing criminal charges.

Sources tell WSAZ.com Judge Michael Thornsbury has been indicted on two counts of conspiracy.

He is currently in custody at the federal courthouse in Charleston.

Thornsbury is Mingo County's only circuit court judge. He serves the 30th District. Thornsbury was appointed by Governor Gaston Caperton in 1997 when Spike Maynard stepped down to fill a vacancy on the State Supreme Court.

Sources tell WSAZ.com Thornsbury recently cleared his court docket for this week. All cases were rescheduled for a later date.

This indictment comes after the arrest of county commissioner David Baisden.

Baisden has been charged with extortion, accused of misusing his office to try to buy tires from a county supplier at a discount.

According to a federal indictment that was unsealed Thursday, the Mingo County Commission bought tires from Appalachian Tire for county vehicles between 2007 and June 2009.

Appalachian Tire sold the tires at a special government price that was substantially below regular retail price.

According to the indictment, Baisden wanted tires purchased at the special rate for his and his wife's personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire refused to sell the tires at the discounted price.

According to the indictment, Baisden left Appalachian Tire a voicemail on June 12, 2009, threatening the commission would stop buying tires from the company if he did not get the special rate for the tires he needed for his personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire did not respond and did not sell Baisden the tires at the special discounted rate.

Also released in the indictment, on June 15, 2009, Baisden called Appalachian Tire again and told the company the county commission would no longer buy tires and they switched to another supplier.

Baisden is set to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in Charleston at 3 p.m. Thursday

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston declined comment but said it would have an announcement about a Mingo County prosecution later in the day

Calls to the County Commission office went unanswered, and a secretary in the prosecutor's office said no one was available to comment.

Prosecutor Michael Sparks is out this week for a family funeral.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 10:40 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Mingo County Commissioner Dave Baisden has been arrested and charged with extortion for misusing his office to try to buy tires from a county supplier at a discount.

According to a federal indictment that was unsealed Thursday, the Mingo County Commission bought tires from Appalachian Tire for county vehicles between 2007 and June 2009.

Appalachian Tire sold the tires at a special government price that was substantially below regular retail price.

According to the indictment, Baisden wanted tires purchased at the special rate for his and his wife's personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire refused to sell the tires at the discounted price.

According to the indictment, Baisden left Appalachian Tire a voicemail on June 12, 2009, threatening the commission would stop buying tires from the company if he did not get the special rate for the tires he needed for his personal vehicles.

Appalachian Tire did not respond and did not sell Baisden the tires at the special discounted rate.

Also released in the indictment, on June 15, 2009, Baisden called Appalachian Tire again and told the company the county commission would no longer buy tires and they switched to another supplier.

Baisden is set to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in Charleston at 3 p.m. Thursday

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston declined comment but said it would have an announcement about a Mingo County prosecution later in the day

Calls to the County Commission office went unanswered, and a secretary in the prosecutor's office said no one was available to comment.

Prosecutor Michael Sparks is out this week for a family funeral.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/15/13 @ 10:40 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) -- Mingo County Commissioner Dave Baisden has been arrested and charged with extortion for misusing his office to try to buy tires from a county supplier at a discount.

Baisden was arrested Thursday and is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Baisden is set to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in Charleston at 3 p.m. Thursday

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Charleston declined comment but said it would have an announcement about a Mingo County prosecution later in the day

Calls to the County Commission office went unanswered, and a secretary in the prosecutor's office said no one was available to comment.

Prosecutor Michael Sparks is out this week for a family funeral.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/15/13 @ 9:15 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After a lengthy investigation, an elected official in Mingo County has been arrested.

Commissioner David L. Baisden was taken into custody early Thursday morning.

The charges against Baisden have not been released.

Baisden is currently serving his second term as Mingo County Commissioner.

Before Baisden was elected as a commissioner he served as the county assessor.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon to discuss the situation.

We have a crew in Mingo County, keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WSAZ NewsChannel 3 645 Fifth Avenue Huntington, WV 25701 304-697-4780 WSAZ Charleston 111 Columbia Avenue Charleston, WV 25302 304-344-3521
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 219761871 - wsaz.com/a?a=219761871