WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — Claiming the case was “a setup from the beginning” and part of a broad corruption ring, the attorney for Delbarton sign-maker George White celebrated the dismissal of drug charges against his client Monday.
In 2013, White was charged by then-Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum for allegedly selling prescription drugs. Investigators said Crum trumped up the charges to keep from paying White a $3,000 campaign debt for political signs.
After White began talking to a federal grand jury about Crum and illegal drug use, the sheriff drew protection from then-Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, county commissioner Dave Baisden and then-county prosecutor Michael Sparks. They leaned on White to change attorneys and plead guilty for a lighter sentence, which he did.
Thornsbury and Sparks have now both resigned and pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating White’s constitutional rights. Baisden was convicted on a separate federal charge.
White’s attorney, Dave Barney, said it was evident there were problems with the drug case from the beginning and Judge John Cummings made the right decision Monday to dismiss the charges following a motion from Special Prosecutor Keith Randolph.
“It was a little scary when you look that there was essentially nothing there, in terms of charges, and they had forced George White into a plea deal,” Barney said. “He would have spent some serious time in jail and only now to find out and discover there were no basis to those charges.”
Barney said Thornsbury was the ringleader.
“Michael Thornsbury signed off on this from the very get-go. He was the one pushing this whole thing and then he had a whole other group with him that went along for the ride,” Barney said.
In a separate case, Crum was shot and killed last April in the parking lot of the Mingo County Courthouse. Thornsbury and Sparks are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court later this year.
Barney said White looks to restart his sign-making business with the 2013 primary election just around the corner.
“He has received a lot of support from the community. So hopefully this will turn the page and start a new chapter in his life,” Barney said.
White’s attorneys plan to file a motion for their client to be refunded a $10,000 forfeiture he originally paid and equipment that was seized from his business at the time of his arrest. White has also said he’ll file a lawsuit of being wrongly prosecuted.
The drug charge was dismissed with prejudice meaning it cannot be refiled.