CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks told a federal judge Monday he didn’t devise the scheme to deny Delbarton sign maker George White of his constitutional rights but he also didn’t stop it.

Sparks was sentenced to the maximum 12 months in federal prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to a federal misdemeanor. Sparks helped convince White to switch attorneys and stop talking to a federal grand jury in hopes of protecting former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. In exchange, White was given a better deal on a drug charge.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston told Sparks he would have sentenced him to more prison time if he could have. U.S. District Attorney Booth Goodwin told MetroNews the sentencing strikes a balance.

“It punishes the wrongdoing while underscoring the fact that it’s important to cooperate early and fully with federal investigators,” Goodwin said.

It was information from Sparks that helped federal investigators get a handle on the scheme that also included former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden.

“Sometimes you just need that crack to go through and what happened is the dam broke,” according to Goodwin. “We were able to follow leads and go further faster.”

The federal prosecutor said what Sparks did as an elected prosecutor and representative of the court was indefensible and deserved prison time but the cooperation could not be overlooked.

“Cooperating early really accrued to his benefit and accrued very much to our benefit,” he said.

Judge Johnston sentenced Thornsbury to 50 months behind bars for his part in the scheme. He is appealing that sentence.

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  • Mike of Mingo

    O.k., so He and Thornsbooger testified and gave information to stop all of the coruption in Mingo, right? Wrong. There has not been any follow up on any of the wrongdoing by others in the county for nearly a year. When a system is so corrupt that they think they can manipulate (and they do) the election system, the judicial (and they do) and the Law Enforcement (and they do) parts of government then it is like living in a third world two bit backwater country.
    Come on Feds, do your job. You let them slide through another election cycle without doing anything. They're inaction lets the county stay in the smug power brokers in power stay in power. The County Slogan should be: Mingo County, where the Roads are crooked and the Politics is Worse.

  • Dewey

    The corruption seems to be throughout the system. They all have thier own agenda, yet never miss an opportunity to stand in front of the camera and call themselves public servants ...

  • tom

    They could come to Mcdowell County and start with Gordon Lambert and finish up with Cliff Moore.

    • Marion

      Why start there ?! Start at the top in Washington. Obama , congress, the senate, ect . Our political system needs a good flushing. Some new blood needed. When one is caught up in corruption in any way shape or form , make an example. Throw the book at them!!

  • northforkfisher

    More Counties need to be cleaned up. The old Southern tradition of that's the way we always done it, so don't mess with tradition, can't fly in this time of tight funds and little revenue.

    • Jonus Grumby

      It shouldn't fly at any time.

  • navin johnson

    please send the federal boys on over to pocahontas county. we got plenty of underhanded dealings and corruption going on that needs the attention of the fbi and the u.s. attorneys office.

  • Molon Labe

    See kids......cooperate and get maxed out on the guidelines

  • arp

    Will corruption end in Mingo County? Not as long as it's a one-party county and it remains solidly that.
    You pull up some bad weeds and others simply pop up to take their place.

    • Jonus Grumby

      The corruption problems in this country cannot be traced to any single political party. It's absolute power that leads to corruption, regardless of party affiliation.

      • ViennaGuy

        Exactly right.