WILLIAMSON, W.Va. – The man caught in the center of the Mingo County corruption case is asking for a change of venue.
Senior Status Judge John Cummings will hold a hearing on February 24 whether to move George White’s case involving drug charges to another county because of pre-trial publicity.
The 65-year-old was arrested by the late Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum back in 2013. White claimed he was just trying to collect money from the sheriff that was owed him for work on campaign signs. Instead he said he was arrested on drug charges. White began talking to federal authorities investigating drug activity and corruption in Mingo County. He told them of his dealings with Crum including providing the former sheriff illegal drugs.
White said then-Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks and Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden leaned on him to switch attorney in the case and he would get a lighter sentence on the charges. He did and pleaded guilty. Disgraced Judge Michael Thornsbury also participated in the scheme.
Sparks, Thornsbury and Baisden resigned from office last year. Sparks and Thornsbury pleaded guilty to violating White’s Constitutional rights. Baisden was sentenced last week to spend 20 months in prison in a separate federal extortion case.
Back in December Judge Cummings set aside White’s guilty plea. The charges were refiled and White pleaded not guilty.
White’s attorney David Barney said the case doesn’t have the “normal notoriety” and should be moved out of Mingo County.