As federal investigators delve farther down the rabbit hole in Mingo County, the discoveries only get curiouser and curiouser.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had suspended Mingo County Judge Michael Thornsbury sufficiently nailed on charges that he abused his position multiple times to entrap the husband of his ex-mistress, that Thornsbury decided to cooperate and pleaded guilty to less dubious charges.

Now Thornsbury is admitting to participating in a scheme designed to hold together the interconnected web of political corruption that is Mingo County.

Here’s what is included in the new federal charge against Thornsbury.  Follow along as best you can.

Sheriff Eugene Crum, who was honored by the community (and praised by me) for his service following his murder earlier this year, was actually a substance abuser who was supplied drugs by George White of Delbarton.

White is a sign maker, and Crum owed White $3,000 for political signs made during the last election.  Rather than pay the bill, Crum set up White by getting an informant to buy three oxycodone pills from him.

Crum and Carl David Rockel, who was then the police chief of Williamson and a close associate of Crum’s, brought drug charges against White.

White hired Butch West as his attorney and began cooperating with federal investigators, explaining to them how Crum was really one of White’s drug customers. Crum got wind of the cooperation and enlisted help from some of his cronies.

The feds say Crum, Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks, Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden and others hatched a scheme; White would hire a different attorney who would not cooperate with the federal investigation and, in return, Judge Thornsbury would give White a light sentence on the drug charge.

Crum then ordered one of his deputies to get a statement from White saying he never sold drugs to Crum.

I know, it sounds absurd, but that’s the way the show has been run in Mingo County; a cabal of miscreants making it up as they go along, abusing their positions, running roughshod over the law, threatening and intimidating people.

As one person familiar with the investigation told me, “The norms among the political class are distorted” in Mingo County.

The pending guilty pleas by Thornsbury and Baisden do not end the investigation. They’re cooperating with the feds, and if anybody knows the whereabouts of the skeletons, it’s Thornsbury.

Sparks has been cooperating with investigators, too.  He has not been charged, but the information returned against Thornsbury suggests Sparks has problems because he arranged for a more favorable sentence for White in return for White replacing his attorney.

Meanwhile, congratulations to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and his office.  Frontline investigators Steve Ruby, who serves as counsel to the U.S. Attorney, and FBI Special Agents Jim Lafferty and Joe Ciccarelli have been relentless in their drive to clean up Mingo County.

Bringing Thornsbury and Baisden to justice is critically important, not only in Mingo, but also in our state, which has had more than its share of political transgressors.

But the work isn’t finished.  The rabbit hole descends farther.  Keep going.

 

 

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Comments

  • Mingo is no different than other counties...

    We could imagine that political corruption has been accepted in most of our counties? Different faces -- different places.

  • Taylor

    It is everywhere in the state, look up Barbour County's Sheriff.

  • DWL

    They need to bring the folks to the eastern panhandle and delve into the liberal loaded "good ole boy" "authorities".

  • Joe

    The legal system here in mingo country hasn't existed ever. The biggest source of income down here with the mines shutting down is the drug trade, and with those in the courthouse wanting to keep the cash flow in mingo county, they have to rely on the drug trade. The police departments here in mingo county are a joke. They are more concerned over helping known drug dealers instead of helping law abiding citizens. It's about time all of this comes out; but it's always been this way. And I've lived here all of my life.

  • dale davis

    explain to me how everyone is so overjoyed at political figures going to jail, but these same people always vote the same people back in office. NEVER any changes!!!

  • Berry

    The corruption started in Chicago years ago , then the corruption went to the white house and has had a trickle down effect since . Until we can get some ethics in the leadership of this country nothing is going to change . It's monkey see , monkey do .

  • Brian

    The Weirton mayor under indictment for embezzlement is being framed by the city, which is controlled by a former mayor and former senator. The mayor put his money in, didn't document it properly, then removed it himself, but the city of Weirton is simply using this as pay back because he didn't support the good ole boys network.

  • Chief Logan

    The Dems have run county politics, brd of ed and all social services since I was a kid over 60 yrs ago. If you don't know someone you probably won't get a job in these areas. It will all crumble when there are too few hard working tax palyers to pay the for the benefits of these parasites. John Kennedy asked how much it would cost to win Logan co. The answer was 35. They were asking for 35 hundred and got 35 thousand. Owwwwww!

  • Joe

    John Grisham....here is your next novel.

  • Mickey

    While they're at it, the FBI needs to take a look at its own house, focusing on Mr X, who I understand was the SA in charge of Mingo and vicinity in years past. Seems his relationships with many of these scoundrels needs to be scrutinized, particularly as it relates to 2003-2005 criminal cases in the county. No wonder citizens just accepted the pathetic state of affairs as their reality; I know a person who called in 2004 and two FBI offices in this great State of ours adamantly directed the caller to Mr X, who also set about protecting the corrupt politicians and some dirty Logan troopers. Ultimately, the complaint never even got off the ground. Mr X clearly saw his job in that case as one of protecting the oppressors from the oppressed! Idk if Mr X is still with the agency at this time but his protection in 04 allowed the corrupt to continue with their business as usual. Can the current Bureau really protect us? Dare I hope?

  • bulldog95

    I wonder if I could go rob a bank and plead down to running a stop sign?

    A real strong message being sent here...

  • Deb Phillips

    This may be a dumb thing to say.....but something keeps nagging at my mind. If Crum didn't want it known about his addiction to the very thing that he was preaching against....(drugs), to the FBI.....then why did they (meaning the judge, prosecutor, etc) work out a scheme to get White a "reduced" sentence. Why not have all the charges dropped, against White??? Paper-work fall through the cracks, type-of-thing. The "reduced charges" does not make sense to me. If I were White, I would have said....no-way .....you drop the drug charges against me completely, or I will continue to cooperate with FBI. That would make more sense.

    • Retired Charlie

      White knew who to be afraid of, and it wasn't the FBI.

    • maggie may

      Mingo is like a foreign country. I think the way George W. and his attorney played the game very well. Had he gone against the "good ole
      boys" he may not be alive today to round up more information. These power players in Mingo would throw him in the Tug River with bricks on feet had he gone against them. It's very REAL when threatened by those in power..

      • Deb Phillips

        I may be wrong, but it seems that if they were going to really silence him, they would have done the brick and river thing......instead of a reduced sentence. It still doesn't make sense to me. (I don't see why they thought a 'reduced sentence' would silence him.)

    • JimmyTwo Times

      I agree. It seems like White didn't do a very good job negotiating for himself. Like most who have commented, I think there is still plenty to come from this investigation. There sure is a lot of unanswered questions.

  • Hillbilly

    The visibility here all started with the murder of the Sheriff (Crum) by a retarded Maynard.. I guarantee that sheriff knew too much about someone who got Maynard to take him out.. so there is still plenty more to uncover here..

  • FungoJoe

    I'm waiting on the forthcoming announcement that US Rep. Nick Joe Rahall-D WV has decided to forego his re-election plans in 2014 and retire from Congress. That will be telling.
    There are some big shiney political trinkets at the end of that rabbit hole for the US Attorney to keep pursuing. The DOJ keeps statistics on all US Attorney offices across America. Next to terrorism convictions, getting convictions on corrupt public officials is the next highest statistic that US Attorneys offices covet or strive for. Don' stop now Mr. Goodwin. Keep digging, even if it takes down a US Rep, Governor and former and current legislative leaders. .

  • FungoJoe

    Will the Feds have the stones to go into Logan County? Wayne County? Boone County? Gov. ERT and some Legislature leaders sure are not resting easy these days.

    Those politicos in Mingo ALL had a big ole "D" behind their names, and proudly proclaimed themselves "liberal progressives" to anyone that would listen. That really comes as no shock or surprise.
    Progressives==corruption.

    • Hillboy

      Hey Gojo, Booth Goodwin is a Democrat. If the party was that corrupt there would be no investigation. You're deluded if you think corruption is limited to one party. I give the Republicans credit though. They don't mess around with this penny-ante stuff.

    • JimmyTwo Times

      Party affiliation does not have anything to do with it. C'mon man! Ignorance!

      • FungoJoe

        It has everything to do with the corruption. That liberal elitist mentality/philosophy has permeated from the national level down to the localist of the local levels.
        Ignorance is bliss. You must be very happy.