CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden were released on $10,000 bond each Thursday afternoon after being indicted on separate charges by a federal grand jury.
Federal prosecutors allege Thornsbury was persistent in his attempt to frame the husband of the judge’s ex-lover, who was also at one time the judge’s secretary.
The charge against Baisden focuses on attempted extortion. After he allegedly made sure the county no longer purchased tires from Appalachian Tire because the company wouldn’t give Baisden the same deal on tires for his personal vehicle that the company gave to governmental bodies under the state purchasing contract.
Both Thornsbury and Baisden made initial appearances before U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley who ordered them to return next Wednesday to be arraigned on the charges.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Thornsbury had an extra-marital affair for a few months in 2008 but when his secretary broke off the relationship the judge took action.
“Judge Thornsbury set off on a campaign to persecute his secretary’s husband,” Goodwin said.
Thornsbury allegedly first tried to have drugs planted under the truck of the husband. He asked his friend Jeff Cline to do it and even gave Cline a small container with illegal drugs inside. Thornsbury then arranged to have the truck searched but Cline eventually backed out of the scheme.
It’s then alleged the judge pressured State Trooper Brandon Moore to file a false criminal complaint against the husband over scrap metal he was allowed to take from his workplace. And even though Thornsbury, the indictment alleges, rigged a grand jury to get an indictment with an elaborate scheme that plan also failed.
Federal prosecutors said Judge Thornsbury struck again just last year when he learned the husband of the former secretary was a victim in a fight. The husband was eventually charged and the judge allegedly pressured the prosecutor to make sure the man received six months home confinement. The case was dismissed on the eve of the trial.
Goodwin said the federal government has a strong case against Thornsbury.
“We have numerous witnesses. We also have documentary evidence as with any case. We also have evidence that tends to corroborate both of those,” he said.
Goodwin would not elaborate on the possibility of other indictments coming from Mingo County corruption but he said the investigation isn’t over.
“Our efforts have culminated in these two indictments and our investigation is ongoing,” he said. “Should anyone have any evidence of further criminal activity that they wish to share with us they should not hesitate to do so,” Goodwin said.
Federal Magistrate Judge Tinsley told Thornsbury and Baisden they would be free on bond on several conditions including removing the guns they own from their homes. They were also told not to speak with a number of people who may be witnesses in their cases.