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Immunity given to 2 in Mingo corruption inquiry

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two men who testified before a federal grand jury about Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury were given immunity from potential crimes by federal prosecutors, court documents show.

West Virginia State Police Trooper Brandon Moore and Jeff Cline, a close friend of Thornsbury, were given immunity for their testimony, according to a list of evidence that federal prosecutors handed over to Thornsbury's attorney. The list was made public Wednesday.

Bill Davis, Mingo County's former 911 director and floodplain coordinator, and Jarrod Fletcher, the county's director of emergency services and Thornsbury's business partner, signed proffer agreements, which provide some protection against prosecution.

The list of evidence also discloses who testified before the grand jury and what documents grand jurors were provided during the investigation.

Thornsbury was arrested Aug. 15 after being charged with conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of his former secretary's husband, Robert Woodruff.

Thornsbury has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for Oct. 15 in front of U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston.

Federal prosecutors say Thornsbury put Fletcher in charge of a county grand jury as foreman, plotted to plant drugs on Robert Woodruff and tried to get the man sent to jail. Thornsbury allegedly plotted against Woodruff after Woodruff's wife, Kim, broke off an affair with Thornsbury. She was the judge's secretary at the time.

Moore -- who was chosen as trooper of the year by the State Police in 2010 -- was suspended with pay after federal prosecutors said in the indictment that he was persuaded by Thornsbury to help plot against Woodruff.

Cline also is mentioned in the indictment. In 2008, the judge called Cline to his office and showed him a metal box with magnets attached to it, according to federal prosecutors. The box allegedly contained drugs, which Thornsbury told Cline to plant on Woodruff's truck.

"Cline left Judge Thornsbury's judicial chambers with the box containing illegal drugs. Cline decided, however, not to follow through with the plan and did not plant the box," the indictment states.

According to the documents made public Wednesday, grand jurors heard testimony on Aug. 14 from Moore, Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks, Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Chandler and FBI Special Agent Joseph Ciccarelli. Thornsbury was arrested the following day.

In May, and again in August, Cline testified before grand jurors. Camilla Ellis, who works in the Mingo County Circuit Clerk's Office, and Tracie Meadows, who used to work in the clerk's office, testified on July 16.

Kim Woodruff also testified on July 16, according to the document.

Federal prosecutors also have documents from Appalachian Wireless, documents provided by West Virginia Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury and bank records.

An audio recording dated Dec. 16, 2008, received from the Mingo County Magistrate Court clerk was disclosed, and Mike Callaghan, the Woodruffs' attorney, also provided documents to the grand jury.

Facebook messages were disclosed between Cline and Lora Grimmett, according to the document. Grimmett is a legal assistant for Williamson attorney Della Cline-Gentile, according to Cline-Gentile's website.

Also Wednesday, federal authorities disclosed a discovery request in an unrelated federal extortion case against Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden.

Baisden allegedly demanded that an Appalachian Tire dealership sell him tires for his personal vehicle in 2009 at a discounted price only available for government vehicles. Baisden allegedly threatened to cut the county's ties with Appalachian Tire if the company refused, and then followed through on his threat, costing the company thousands of dollars, according to the indictment.

At the time, Baisden was the purchasing agent for the County Commission, which gave him authority to choose where the county purchased tires. Baisden later set up a purchasing agreement with Tic Toc Tire in Danville, according to the indictment.

Federal authorities received statements from the Bank of Mingo and the Mingo County Commission. They also got documents from Appalachian Tire and Tic Toc Tire, according to Wednesday's disclosure.

James Richards, an Appalachian Tire employee, testified before a federal grand jury on May 15. Jerry Colegrove, a former county commission employee who delivered tires, also testified. Mingo County Commissioners Greg "Hootie" Smith and John Mark Hubbard testified before the federal grand jury on July 16, according to the discovery disclosure.

Baisden has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for Oct. 21 before U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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