UPDATE 11/18/13 @ 9:15 a.m.
MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (AP) -- A convicted drug dealer who was a key figure in a federal corruption case in Mingo County is out of prison until a judge hears a petition in his case.
A visiting judge ordered the release of George Reuben White of Delbarton. White posted $25,000 bail and was released from Huttonsville Correctional Center on Friday.
Former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury sentenced White in May to up to 15 years in prison.
Last month Thornsbury resigned and pleaded guilty in a scheme to protect Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs from White. Crum was killed in April in an unrelated shooting.
According to the order signed by visiting Judge John Cummings, special prosecutor Keith Randolph didn't object to White's release.
On Monday, Sparks pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Sparks, 44, is the third former Mingo County official to plead guilty to federal charges involving a scheme to cover up evidence of illegal drug use and other misconduct by late Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum.
Sparks resigned in October after being charged in the scheme.
Federal prosecutors say Sparks and others had devised a scheme to keep Crum's alleged drug supplier and campaign sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about the late sheriff.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, “Prosecutors are the representatives of the people. Instead of advancing the interests of the good people of Mingo County, Mr. Sparks chose to roll over for the special interests of a corrupt political faction.”
He faces a maximum of one year in prison, a year of supervised release and up to $100,000 fine. He will be sentenced in February.
As part of the plea, Sparks agreed not to run for public office again. Sparks is also required to voluntarily surrender his license to practice law in every state in which he holds a law license, and withdraw his opposition to the petition seeking the immediate suspension of his law license in the state of West Virginia. Sparks also agrees not to contest disbarment proceedings in any state in which he is licensed to practice law.
Former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, 57, previously pleaded guilty in October for his role in the scheme to protect Crum and deprive G.W. of his rights. Thornsbury faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 13, 2014.
Former County Commissioner David Baisden pleaded guilty to an unrelated federal charge in connection with a scheme to illegally extort a discount from a Mingo County tire store. Baisden, 66, resigned from the Mingo County Commission in October. Baisden faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 14, 2014.
Prosecutors say Michael Sparks is expected to plead guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Sparks resigned in October after being charged in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs. Crum was shot to death in April in an unrelated attack as he ate lunch in his vehicle.
Federal prosecutors say Sparks and others had cooked up a scheme to keep Crum's alleged drug supplier and campaign sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about the late sheriff.
Former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to deprive White of his constitutional rights and has resigned from the bench.
According to court records, Sparks' hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in federal court.
WSAZ.com will be at Sparks' hearing. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
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