CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks said Monday during his guilty plea to a federal crime that he had “no viable defense” for what he did.

Sparks, 44, admitted he violated a man’s constitutional rights in order to protect former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. He now faces up to a year in federal prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 24.

Sparks had no comment when he left the federal courthouse in Charleston. His attorney Kent Varney said he would have to pay for his mistakes.

“He allowed political manipulation of his office and as a result of those mistakes, there are consequences for his actions,” Varney said.

Federal prosecutors said Sparks and former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, who also has been convicted of a federal crime, urged accused drug dealer George White to get a different attorney and then he would get a better deal in court. White’s other attorney was urging him to speak with federal investigators about Sheriff Crum’s alleged drug habits.

Varney said Sparks was under pressure.

“It’s hard to describe. He had some pressure on him,” he said.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said attorneys, especially elected prosecutors, need to be able to withstand that pressure.

“Instead of standing up for them (the people of Mingo County) he stood up for and rolled over to special interests associated to the corrupt political machine of Mingo County,” Goodwin said. “(Attorneys) have a public trust. They’re supposed to be there representing the cause of justice wherever they may be. They have that ability and are entrusted with that ability.”

Sparks hasresigned as prosecutor and surrendered his law license. He now has a job in Pikeville, Ky., awaiting his sentencing.

“His admitted his guilt,” Varney said. “He admitted his mistakes and he looks forward to moving on with his life and going on with the next chapter and seeing what happens.”

Williamson resident Mark Curry attended Monday’s plea hearing. He said Sparks is a good man who got caught up with the wrong people.

“It’s totally out of character for Michael,” Curry said. “He got caught up being around some people who were really pressuring him and things like that. It’s really surprising. He’s a friend and it’s really out of character.”

Sparks has promised to continue to cooperate with federal investigators in the ongoing Mingo County probe. He has been granted limited use immunity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston took the plea and will sentence Sparks. He’ll have a range that cannot exceed one year in federal prison. Sparks also faces one year supervised release and a $1,000 fine.


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  • fred

    Seriously? You guys pass for the "informed" in this state? Jesus.

    He's already got his license suspended, and part of his plea is that he agrees to not contest it. His page on the membership directory at the website already says his license has been "annulled."

    Quit listening to Rush and Hoppy all day and pay attention.

  • Matt

    He doesn't qualify for a halfway house. Only exiting BOP prisoners can go there.

    Probation or FCI Morgantown for this guy. Has to do 100 percent of his time for anything under a year though.

  • Matt

    The WV Bar will not revoke his license. Many attorneys have pled in fed court and have kept their license.

    No one likes to dicipline their own kind.

  • BarbourCountyWV

    this almost sounds exactly like Barbour county with Sheriff Crums corrupt buddy and shady, sleezy prosecutor. They almost fall at some point.

  • DW

    This was the charge he plead guilty to not all the crimes he was involved in. He told what he knew on everyone else in exchange for a lesser charge, lighter sentence, and to make the other charges go away.

  • MoMoney

    There is a federally contracted halfway house in Charleston. That is where he will go. No cell and no bars. It'll be like he is on a retreat.

  • Mike Baisden

    Sparks' Attorney says he was under pressure, fact is, he was the a big force in the intimidation in Mingo County. He used his office to club any that got in his way. He got caught, he's done, now Feds, lets get the rest of em---A Mingo Countian

  • Brian

    So Sheriff Crum, the drug fighter, is alleged to have been a druggie? Was his seemingly random murder by some mentally ill dude really a hit to keep him quiet?

  • Lou

    Come on, he "urged" a defendant to get another attorney for a lighter sentence. Is that the charge? And you people want this guy ruined for life and his livelihood taken away from him? Puuulease.

    3 months jail. Law license supsended for a year. That more than fits the crime.

  • Shadow

    The interesting part is to come! Will the State Bar remove/revoke his license to practice Law? Most likely, it will be for a short time and then he will be a "Honest Lawyer" again. He is a Felon now. His parents never taught him to say "NO", a poor upbringing.

  • Hillbilly

    Attorneys have a public trust??? Yeh like used car salesmen..
    "Never a fee unless we get money for YOU!!!"

  • Woodchuck

    Read the old stories... He said he did nothing wrong. What a joke.

  • Jason412

    If they dont send him out of state Im sure he'll be sent to FCI Morgantown. The only prison I've ever heard of where the inmates are taller than the fence and you're on the "honor system" not to escape

    The good thing about a federal conviction though, is that they have to do 85% of the sentence before being eligible parole. But it should be 85% of 10 years, not 1?


    What? Only a year? He was an officer of the court and should be required to spend the entire sentence if only a year. I'm sure it will be in a white collar crime jail. Not a general federal prison. He got off easy. He should be barred from practicing law forever!!!