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Mingo names new county commissioner, prosecutor

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. -- The Mingo County Commission chose a new member today and appointed a new county prosecutor as it tries to find its way out from under what Commissioner Greg "Hootie'' Smith called a lingering black cloud of corruption scandals.

Commissioners chose interim prosecutor Teresa Maynard, who had accepted a 30-day appointment last month, to permanently replace her former boss, Michael Sparks. It also appointed school board member Mike Carter to replace former County Commissioner Dave Baisden.

Media outlets say Maynard was immediately sworn in, but Carter must wait until he resigns from the board. He didn't attend the special meeting in Williamson.

Both Sparks and Baisden resigned last month after they were charged in separate cases that grew out of an ongoing federal corruption probe.

Though both were implicated in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he'd bought drugs, only Sparks was charged. He's expected to plead guilty to conspiracy in U.S. District Court in Charleston on Nov. 18.

Baisden awaits sentencing Jan. 14, 2014 in the same court on an unrelated federal extortion charge.

Crum was shot to death in April in an unrelated attack as he ate lunch in his vehicle.

Federal prosecutors say Sparks, Baisden and former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury had cooked up a scheme to keep Crum's alleged drug supplier and campaign sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about the late sheriff.

Thornsbury has pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive White of his constitutional rights and has resigned from the bench.

A recently unsealed federal search warrant shows the FBI was investigating the former sheriff on suspicion of money laundering in the weeks before he died. The document says Crum allegedly arranged to buy campaign signs with cash obtained from a doctor convicted of running a pill mill.

The warrant says Dr. Diane Shafer paid White hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to for making Crum's campaign signs.

The FBI also was investigating whether Crum committed mail fraud by submitting fake campaign disclosure forms by mail, whether Crum possessed illegal drugs and whether he intended to distribute those drugs.

Federal prosecutors say Crum had White arrested instead of paying a $3,000 debt to the sign maker. White then went to federal agents and told them about providing Crum with pills.

When the alleged conspirators learned White was talking, they allegedly offered him a deal. Federal prosecutors say they told White he would get a lighter sentence if he fired his lawyer and hired one they preferred.

White was eventually sentenced to 1 to 15 years in prison on drug charges.

Shafer was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty in an unrelated case to misusing her Drug Enforcement Administration registration number.


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