CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with other Mingo County officials to keep a man from reporting late Sheriff Eugene Crum’s alleged past drug purchases to the FBI. A guilty plea hearing was requested by federal prosecutors Thursday afternoon.

In a federal information case filed earlier Thursday, Thornsbury is accused of working with Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks, Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden, Crum and others to force the man, identified as G.W. in the information, to fire his attorney and end his cooperation with federal investigators.

G.W. is George White who was operating a sign business in Delbarton.

(Read the federal case against Judge Thornsbury here.)

Federal documents revealed Crum owed White $3,000 for election signs and other materials he bought on credit before being elected in 2012.  In January of this year, after Crum became sheriff, he allegedly sent a confidential police informant to White to buy oxycodone and later got a search warrant for his business.

A Mingo County grand jury indicted White on the resulting drug charge at the end of January.

After his arrest, White hired Charles “Butch” West, identified as C.W. in the information, to represent him. Prosecutors said West and White first met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in February to report that “on multiple occasions prior to his arrest, he (White) unlawfully provided Crum with prescription narcotic pills at Crum’s request.”

Crum’s alleged oxycodone buys happened while he was a Mingo County magistrate, prior to being elected sheriff.

Thornsbury’s role in the alleged conspiracy started in March when he allegedly promised a lighter sentence for the drug charge if White fired West as counsel. White agreed to hire an attorney Thornsbury and the others approved, thus ending cooperation with the FBI.

According to the federal case, “The sign-maker went in front of the judge and there was an agreement that the law would go easier on him as result of his agreement to cooperate in this fashion,” said Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District.

Crum was shot and killed while eating lunch near the Mingo County Courthouse on April 3. Tennis Maynard of Delbarton is charged with Crum’s murder. On Wednesday, Sparks recused himself from the Maynard case citing “an emerging conflict of interest.”

Thornsbury was previously charged with violating the Constitutional rights of the husband of his ex-mistress over a span of years. He allegedly abused his judicial power to target the man. Federal officials said his guilty plea will be for the information issued Thursday.

The next step for Thornsbury, who is the only elected official charged in the information, will be a plea hearing.

“Unless and until a federal judge passes on the plea, it’s not a done deal,” said Goodwin on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

A plea hearing is already in the process of being scheduled for Baisden, charged separately with extortion for allegedly ending Mingo County’s business with Appalachian Tire when his request for the county price for tires for his personal vehicle was denied.

Kyle Lovern with the Williamson Daily News said the ongoing federal investigation could mark a change in Mingo County.  “We’re hoping that this will clean out the courthouse, get rid of the political slates and we can get some good, honest politicians in some of these positions and do some good for Mingo County,” he said.

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Comments

  • P1

    Please send Mr. Goodwin and the FBI to Pocahontas County- very similar things happening up here with our esteemed and illustrious county leaders.

  • Vet

    If they put more horsehonkle dillywonkle democrats in office expect more of the same .

  • Hillbilly

    What is it with Sheriffs lately?
    - Sheriff of Mingo County killed, was corrupt..
    - Sheriff of Barbour Co in trouble for misspending funds...
    - Sheriff of Clay County in Federal trouble for bugging ex-wife's computer...

    • Larry

      One common thing is they are all politicians, and I'm guessing all dems.

  • Hillbilly

    I am still wondering who they will eventually find out it was that got Tennis Maynard as their stooge to take out Crum....

  • Viv

    This is good story for the Lifetime Movie Channel.

  • Mike Baisden

    We needed help to bring down this bunch of crooks and they all aren't gone yet, but Mingo Countians are waking up to the fact that these people were capable of doing anything. THey have held absolute sway here but I believe the people of Mingo County have had enough.
    Thanks for your offer to let the State come in and take over but That is not the answer. The answer can only come from the people here. They have to wake up to the fact that just because they speak to you on the street or take care of a parking ticket that does not make them good people. This bunch didnt start out evil but power corrupts and their power here was ultimate. Ultimate Power corrupts ultimately.

  • Vet

    The government could save a lot of money by just relocating the 3 or 4 honest people of Mingo county to another place and put the prison fence around the entire county .

  • Vet

    If workers comp and welfare did the same depth of investigation in mingo county 95% of the citizens could go to jail with their beloved elected officials

  • wva

    no one perfect but putting blame on a dead man not right, but dose that give the right to let that judge off not make him do time,i no for a fact of few people frist affend he gave them hard time and got pay to give their children to other people an not the family ,the state was in on it so if u don't have money u lost in this town but this town been like this all my life it wont clean it up it still bad in the court house c clerk office to

  • Larry

    The WV legislature is convening to discuss giving away the southern part of WV.

  • Jo Jo

    It's seems that every time a story breaks with the Mingo County Judge and gang it always ends with everyone pointing their finger at the only person unable to speak up and defend himself (Crum). I've learned over the years that there's 2 sides to every story.

  • Vet

    This is what happens when you let dumacrats rule

  • Medman

    Nothing can justify the kind of corruption that has been exposed in Mingo County. The minimum sentences should be 20 yrs. that must be served among the general prison population. Will not happen, just a thought.

    But, one has to wonder why we keep getting misfits and crooks winning elected offices in our State. Rarely do we get honest, professionals running for these offices who can manage and have a vision that will make for real change over what we have accepted for decades. That is the core of the problem. Good people will not run for public office because you have to compromise your basic values and core beliefs because you have to play the party line crap or else. I wonder how we could change that.

  • Dale

    Governor first, then US Senate!

  • BarbourCountyWV

    Yes, we also have a very corrupt Sheriff's office in Barbour County, although from his facebook page he seems to know the Late Sheriffs family a lil toooooo well. Of course it sound as though they were birds of a feather, womanizing , power trip, pill head, sneaking , lying bunch f crap. They are catching up with BC as it should be, just a shame Mingo County didn't catch it before it was too late. I must say I love the way they came across like it was because he had busted the gentleman but in all reality he probaly owed him a little somethin', somethin'.