CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The fallout continues following this week’s arrests of two elected officials in Mingo County on federal charges.
Both Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, who is charged with violating a man’s Constitutional rights, and Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden, who is accused of attempted extortion, will be back in U.S. Magistrate Court to be arraigned next week.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin talked about the arrests on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” He said the corruption charges against Thornsbury and Baisden should send a message to Mingo County as a whole.
“People see that something is being done and generally it causes further developments,” said Goodwin. He said similar investigations in the past have cleaned up politics in other parts of West Virginia.
“I would have to believe that, if we are successful in proving these charges, the same will occur in Mingo County.”
Mingo County GOP Chair Russell Deskins said he is grateful both Baisden and Thornsbury have been charged. “Thank goodness for those State Police guys and the FBI and the people that came in here and took up for us and were willing to get this thing straightened up,” said Deskins.
“We’ll clean this courthouse out and get this thing straightened up. I pray that they do that.”
Soon after Thornsbury’s indictment was unsealed on Thursday, the state Supreme Court suspended Thornsbury without pay and suspended his law license pending the outcome of the criminal case against him.
Thornsbury allegedly made several attempts to go after a Mingo County man who is the husband of a woman Thornsbury had an affair with back in 2008.
“It’s just alarming and it’s disgusting and it’s a tawdry tale,” said state Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury. “There’s no denying that it’s a black eye, but the body of the judiciary is whole and the black eye will heal and we’ll get through this.”
Thornsbury, who has denied the charges, was the only circuit judge in Mingo County.
Retired Cabell County Circuit Judge John Cummings and former state Supreme Court Justice Thomas McHugh were chosen to fill in there temporarily. They started their work on Friday morning.