CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Inside the courtroom it was cut and dry, outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse it was like a circus.

Former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden, 67, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Charleston after pleading guilty back in October to extortion.

As he left the courthouse Wednesday morning, Baisden was surrounded by friends and family who tried to stop the media from taking any photos of Baisden or asking him any questions by pushing and shoving reporters and photographers and in several cases making threats.

Judge John Copenhaver said he took into account Baisden’s crime, the impact it had on the community, his health concerns and all the good works he’s done for the people of Mingo County when sentencing him to 20 months in prison and paying $7,700 in restitution to two companies.

Baisden said in court, “I sincerely apologize to Appalachian Tire, the citizens of Mingo County, the Mingo County Commission, poll workers, family and friends.”

He told the judge, “All my life I wanted to help people. Look at my lifelong achievements, not my mistakes.”

Baisden had two character witnesses testify about those good works, like buying shoes for children who didn’t have any and paying out of pocket to buy the lumber to rebuild a bridge for a widow on a limited income.

His attorney also pointed out more than 1,000 people in Mingo County signed a petition supporting Baisden.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said he’s disappointed with the sentence.

“Justice absolutely cannot be a popularity contest!”

He wanted the judge to sentence Baisden to prison for the maximum under sentencing guidelines, anywhere from 24 to 36 months.

“We need to promote respect for the law. We need to send a very clear message that this can’t happen, especially in an area that’s been plagued with systemic corruption,” according to Goodwin.

Baisden has until April 4 to self-report to prison. The judge granted him 60 days to take care of some health problems before he begins his time behind bars. The judge said he might consider an additional 30-day extension if more time for treatment is needed. Baisden’s specific health problem was not discussed in court.

Baisden is the first of three former Mingo County elected officials to face sentencing after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Baisden, who served as the county purchasing agent, admitted he demanded Appalachian Tire to sell him tires for his personal vehicle at the same price they were giving the county to put tires on their vehicles. Appalachian refused and lost the county contract to supply tires for the Mingo County fleet.

Baisden was ordered to repay Appalachian Tire $5,480 and Goodyear $2,236. That will be paid in 36 installments.

Two others who pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy charges in Mingo County, former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, will be sentenced in March.

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  • Shadow

    It is difficult for me to accept Booth's plea for respect for the law when he works for a criminal like Eric Holder. Now there is a Criminal.... and he is still walking around and is the Attorney General. Booth should fall on his sword.

    • Taxpayer

      Why is Booth responsible for the actions of Holder? Aren't you as a citizen more responsible for Holder since you voted in the administration that hired him?

  • wvtd

    justice is no longer blind, she took off her blindfold so she can count the money.

  • Pickle Barrel

    1,000 Mingo County residents sign a statement of support for this guy after he abuses the public trust? What a bunch of fools. Little wonder why Southern WV is like a third-world country.

    • WVJoe

      Those 1,000 petitioners are the ones who keep electing corrupt politicians and justifying their corrupt behaviors. This is symptomatic of several southern counties and directly reflects a number of current and recent elected officials who build little kingdoms for themselves, their family members and friends. They rise to power by stepping all over their constituents while attempting to create an "illusion" that they are serving the public good. It's never going to stop as long as judges, investigators, and others keep protecting and covering for them. It will not stop until we, as voters, send them a strong message that "business as usual" is no longer acceptable. And we can do it through three or four election cycles. All we need to do is NOT vote for any incumbent, regardless of the initial following their names, be it D, R, I, or whatever. We set the term limits. We may turn out a few decent ones but that's a risk that we must be willing to take. After those "career politicians" are sent back home, the replacements would then serve one term; then we would replace them. Amazingly, we would then have voter directed term limits. Elected officials would no long need to spend each term running for re-election and would not have the opportunity to build their little kingdoms. And the lobbyists would find themselves with no greater power or control than each individual eligible, registered, voting citizen of THE GREAT STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA!

      • Reality check

        If voting changed anything it would be illegal.

      • John

        You stated well. The two factions are already lining up. Sen. Truman Chafin vs. Del. Former Republican, Harry K. White, (D) and Hootie!

  • Tom P.

    The reason this character demanded a discount from Appalachian Tire was not to save a few dollars. It was to push his weight around and to show people how important he was. It was an ego-trip pure and simple.

  • John

    West Virginia JUSTICE! If Baisden had money to buy shoes and build bridges, then why 36 payments? I guess the "JUDGE" wanted to send a message to Mingo County. That is: continue to do whatever you want to down there and I will give you a little slap on the BUTT!

  • Mountain Man

    Don't look yet.....wait until yo use what minimal sentience Judge Thornsbury and Sparks receive....they'll get an even lighter sentence since the court takes care of their own.....this is such a judicial tragedy!

  • blugldmn

    I agree with Goodwin on this...

  • cutty77

    Booth needs to understand he's just a mere Rookie in this Shell Game.I get tired of everybody having health problems just before they go to Jail too. I wanted him to have to change Tires at The Tire Store. 20 months means 2 or 3 months max at a Country Club too.

  • Chris1529

    If Appalachian Tire had sold him the tires at the discounted price, would this have even come out? How much of a discount are we talking about?

    • just me

      Well to be honest Ill tell you the best that i can for a regular citizen they pay around 1400 to 1600 for a set of goodyear rsa 225/60r16 tires, and at that time the county was getting the same exact tire the only difference was the tires were z rated for higher speeds for the police cruisers which if im not mistaken they z rated cost more and they were getting the tires for no more than say 1000 maybe less I cant remember the exact amount but I have seen one of the invoices from the county that app tire sent them.

    • cutty77

      Well they are charging him a little over 7000. dollors and his making 36 payments.

  • zero tolerance

    Attorneys policing themselves. They all share that common thread.

  • me

    And they wonder why people lost faith in our judicial system. Right here is why

  • WVJoe

    This kid glove handling, of politicians who abuse the public trust, by the justice system just leads to more corruption and wrong doing! Until elected officials come to understand that they are "public servants" and are held to the highest standards, these types of shenanigans will continue. His "good deeds" are what most of us West Virginian's do when a neighbor is in need; and generally don't expect any form of acknowledgement or recognition. Does anyone believe that these were his first or only transgressions? But we have come to expect and except these behaviors from our elected officials, especially in a few select southern counties. And the corrupt politicians have come to expect that they will be treated gently by their friends and peers.