County commissioners will also have to replace Sparks, according to Philip Morrison, executive director of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute. Sparks said in his statement that his resignation will take effect at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
"Our hard work and dedication to the cause of justice during my tenure as Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney resulted in an unprecedented number of felony convictions and 100 percent trial conviction rate in murder and drug cases," Sparks said in his statement. "Our commitment to children was exemplified by the prosecution of an unparalleled number of child abuse and neglect cases. Recently our voluntary substantial assistance in the federal investigation was instrumental in bringing Michael Thornsbury to justice."
Before Wednesday, Sparks had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing alleged by federal prosecutors.
In August, Sparks was mentioned in an indictment that charged Thornsbury with conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of his former secretary's husband by trying to land him in jail. That charge against Thornsbury -- which said that Sparks knew at least some of what Thornsbury was allegedly plotting -- will be dropped if a judge accepts Thornsbury's plea agreement.
Sparks has said before that he never took part in Thornsbury's alleged scheme against Robert Woodruff, the ex-secretary's husband, and blamed an "intimidating environment" for not reporting the judge.
Federal prosecutors gave information to state ODC investigators calling Sparks a liar after he continued to deny the alleged role outlined first in Thornsbury's information.
Sparks obtained his law degree from West Virginia University. From 2002 through 2004, he was an assistant prosecutor in Mingo. He was elected prosecuting attorney in 2005.
"Michael is a real good guy. Anybody who has met him knows he is a really nice person," Varney said. "He made some mistakes and, as a result of those mistakes, we had to make a plea agreement with the federal government."Magistrate charged with voter fraud
Toler, Mingo County's chief magistrate, resigned hours before federal prosecutors filed the voter-registration fraud charge against him, according to West Virginia Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury.
According to the charge, Toler illegally submitted a voter registration application in the name of a convicted felon who was on probation at the time. Prosecutors did not name the felon.
In January 2012, Toler was appointed as a magistrate -- by Thornsbury -- to take over the seat vacated by Crum, who left the position to run for sheriff. Toler won the election and took office for what was supposed to be a full term in January.
Canterbury said Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin would appoint a senior-status magistrate to temporarily cover the vacant position.
Normally, the circuit judge would appoint Toler's replacement, but Senior Status Cabell Circuit Judge John Cummings is filling in for Thornsbury, and Canterbury said it isn't clear if Cummings can make that decision. An opinion is being drawn up on who is to appoint a permanent replacement, Canterbury said.
Toler didn't want to make a statement, his wife told the Gazette on Wednesday.
However, he told the Williamson Daily News before the charge against him was filed that he has "served the public to the best of my ability and have always prided myself in treating each and every defendant who appeared before me in a fair and just manner. No matter what the situation was or what crime was committed, they deserved no less than that.
"I hope that throughout this investigation and whatever the outcome may be, that you will remember a job well done by myself and my assistant," Toler told the newspaper.
On his Facebook page Thursday morning, Toler wrote, "I have decided they are things in our lives that is just not fair." (sic) Ninety-two people "liked" the comment.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.