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Mingo drug case figure to be arraigned again

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Mingo County man whose guilty plea was vacated last month because he was deprived of his choice of attorney will be arraigned for a second time next week.

George Reuben White's arrest last year began a chain of events that brought down Mingo County's circuit judge and prosecuting attorney.

White, 65, of Delbarton, is charged with three counts of selling oxycodone to a confidential informant in December 2012, one count of possessing oxycodone and morphine with intent to deliver in February, and one count of possessing oxycodone with the intent to deliver.

He will be arraigned on the charges at 9 a.m. Thursday in Mingo Circuit Court, according to Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph, who has been assigned to the case.

White was arrested after allegedly selling drugs to an undercover officer sent in by Mingo Sheriff Eugene Crum. According to federal prosecutors, White then began talking to investigators about providing prescription drugs to Crum.

When Crum found out, prosecutors say, he and other county officials -- including Mingo prosecutor Michael Sparks and County Commissioner David Baisden -- hatched a plan to keep White quiet. They said he would get a light sentence if he switched lawyers and stopped talking to investigators.

White did switch lawyers and pleaded guilty to drug charges in front of the county's circuit judge, Michael Thornsbury -- who signed off on the scheme to thwart the investigation into Crum, according to federal prosecutors.

Sparks has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating White's constitutional rights -- by not allowing him to choose his own lawyer -- and Thornsbury has pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate White's rights. Sparks and Thornsbury resigned as part of their plea deals with federal prosecutors.

Crum was shot dead in April while sitting in his police cruiser in downtown Williamson. Tennis Maynard has been charged in the slaying.

Circuit Judge John Cummings, who has been filling in until a replacement is chosen for Thornsbury, released White from prison in November on $10,000 bond. White said his previous guilty plea should be vacated; Randolph and the judge agreed.

Randolph said bond could be addressed at the arraignment Thursday. Other dates in the case might also be set, according to Randolph.

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


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