WILLIAMSON, W.Va. -- Mingo County residents gathered in small circles outside the county courthouse Thursday morning, hoping to watch the arrest of Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury.
Talk had circulated for months about a criminal investigation into elected county officials. Although some dismissed it as the rumors they've heard for years, few were surprised when it finally happened.
A federal grand jury indicted Thornsbury and County Commissioner David Baisden on unrelated corruption charges on Wednesday.
Federal authorities allege Thornsbury targeted his ex-lover's husband and tried to land the man in jail on trumped-up charges. Baisden is accused of threatening a tire store after employees did not give him a discount normally afforded to government vehicles.
Police arrested Baisden outside the Mingo courthouse early Thursday. Thornsbury later surrendered himself to authorities in Charleston.
Virginia Spaulding, of Delbarton, stopped by the courthouse to see why people and reporters were gathered there. She said the news disappointed her more than it shocked her.
Another Delbarton resident, James Lee Fouch, walked to the courthouse to talk to reporters. The arrests are long overdue, he said.
"When I got pulled over, the officer who came to my window said it was because I hung the wrong campaign sign," Fouch said. "Around here it's who you know, not what you know."
Rose Roberts, of Rawl, said she's lived in Mingo County for years and has been before Judge Thornsbury before on a first-offense drug charge. The judge sentenced her to 18 months in jail, she said.
"I know of other people he just let go," Roberts said. "He didn't seem fair."
Authorities accused Thornsbury, the county's only circuit judge, of putting his business partner in charge of a Mingo grand jury and plotting to plant drugs on his ex-lover's husband.
Spaulding questioned how a judge strict on drugs would be accused of trying to plant drugs.
"Where are all the drugs going that police are collecting?" Spaulding said. "How did he get this stuff?"