CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The federal corruption investigation focused on Mingo County continues even after this week’s resignations of Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks and Mingo County Magistrate Dallas Toler.
“When you secure the cooperation of individuals like we’ve done, most recently, with Mr. Sparks and Mr. Toler, that may lead us to yet other avenues to explore and other evidence to develop,” said Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District.
On Wednesday, those in his office filed federal informations in U.S. District Court in Charleston against Sparks, alleging a rights violation, and Toler, alleging voter fraud.
They are the latest to be charged in an investigation that has already lead to guilty pleas and resignations from former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden.
According to the court filing, Sparks participated in a conspiracy, with Thornsbury and Baisden, to protect last Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. Federal prosecutors said Sparks’ cooperation was “key” to a scheme to give Crum’s alleged drug dealer a more lenient drug sentence, earlier this year, because he changed lawyers and stopped talking to federal investigators about Crum.
Sparks could serve time in prison. “He certainly is exposed to jail time. That is entirely within the discretion of the court,” said Goodwin. According to federal guidelines, the maximum sentence for a violation of Constitutional rights is one year.
Toler is charged with voter fraud for allegedly registering a convicted felon to vote last year when he knew that person was a convicted felon.
As of Thursday, plea hearings had not yet been scheduled for Sparks and Toler.
Thornsbury and Baisden are scheduled to be sentenced on separate federal charges in January.
Goodwin said what happens in Mingo County affects everyone.
“Ultimately, what we want to make sure of is that there is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people in place in every corner of America, really, and this happens to be the corner of America that I’m charged with protecting,” he said.