Sparks' recusal would have led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, which might have led to Thornsbury's scheme being discovered, prosecutors say.
According to the indictment, in January 2009 when Thornsbury allegedly chose Jarrod Fletcher, Mingo County's director of homeland security and emergency management, to be the foreman of a new grand jury, Sparks "declined to participate in Thornsbury's plan."
With Fletcher in charge of the grand jury, Thornsbury was allegedly able to sway the jury's authority and use it to victimize Robert Woodruff. Thornsbury created, and Fletcher signed, a set of subpoenas ordering Woodruff's employer and various other local companies to surrender private documents about him, according to the indictment.
Last year, Robert Woodruff was involved in an altercation with two men at a convenience store. One of the men swung at Woodruff and the other pulled a gun, according to the indictment. The two men were arrested and charged with assault. But about a month later, the charges against those two men were dismissed, and, instead, Woodruff was charged with assault and battery.
"Judge Thornsbury directed [his friend] to instruct Prosecutor Sparks that [Woodruff] should receive a sentence of six months' confinement in the case then pending against him," the indictment states.
According to federal prosecutors, the judge's friend told Sparks and an assistant prosecutor in the county about Thornsbury's alleged orders.
A prosecutor in Sparks' office offered Woodruff the deal of six months, which he refused, the indictment states. And on the eve of the trial, Sparks dismissed the charge, stating, "After careful review of the video evidence, further prosecution of the charges would not be consistent with the public interest in the fair administration of justice."
This isn't the first time Sparks has been investigated by the disciplinary counsel.
In 2007, Sparks was admonished by the counsel for allowing subpoenas for the financial records of a county commissioner to be issued by his office without his approval.
Halcy Hatfield, a former Mingo commissioner who lost his 2006 re-election bid, filed the complaint. Hatfield said issuing the subpoenas affected his campaign, causing his defeat.
In 2005, Sparks and then-Mingo County Sheriff Lonnie Hannah began investigating how federal flood recovery money was spent following the devastating floods of 2004. Hatfield's name came up during the investigation and Hannah obtained subpoenas for Hatfield's financial records through Sparks' office. Sparks said he stopped the subpoenas before any information was provided to the sheriff.
In admonishing Sparks, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel cautioned him to not allow any office employee to issue subpoenas.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.