WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — A Mingo County sign maker pleaded not guilty Thursday to a pair of drug charges that are intertwined with the ongoing Mingo County political corruption case.

George White, 65, of Delbarton, was arraigned after a previous guilty plea to the charges was thrown out by a judge last month. The ruling came after White’s attorney filed a post-conviction motion in October claiming his 6th Amendment Right to choose his legal counsel was violated.

White had been speaking with federal authorities about the activities of former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. When Crum’s friends found out they urged White to change attorneys and they would make sure he would get a lighter sentence on his state drug charges. Those friends were the prosecutor, county commissioner and circuit judge. Michael Sparks, Dave Baisden and Michael Thornsbury have all pleaded guilty to various federal charges and are awaiting sentencing.

White made campaign signs for Crum. He claims when he attempted to collect the debt owed for the work he was charged by the sheriff with the drug charges. White has claimed he was the sheriff’s drug dealer. Crum was murdered in April 2013. His widow said her husband did not use illegal drugs.

White’s attorney told MetroNews after Thursday’s arraignment they plan to fight the original charges. He said they aren’t sure if they will seek a change of venue.

“Normally you have to let the court know at the time of arraignment whether you’re going to seek a change of venue,” David Barney said. “We asked for an extension and the court granted it. It’s something that we’re still kicking around and we want to give it a little more time.”

The defense will make its decision by Feb. 1. Circuit Judge John Cummings set White’s trial for April 14.

 

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