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White arraigned again on Mingo drug charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The man whose arrest last year began a chain of events that brought down Mingo County's circuit judge and prosecuting attorney pleaded not guilty to drug charges Thursday.

George Reuben White, 65, of Delbarton, was re-arraigned on the charges he was indicted on last year. His trial is set for April 14, according to his attorney, Charles "Butch" West.

Circuit Judge John Cummings released White from Huttonsville Correctional Center in November, and threw out White's original guilty plea last month.

White 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.

Circuit Judge John Cummings set a Feb. 1 deadline for attorneys to request a change of venue if they want to move the trial out of Mingo County, according to West.

"That's something we're considering," -- because of the publicity the case has received -- "but we haven't made a decision as to whether we will actually do that. We're thinking it over," West said.

White was arrested last February 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.

On Thursday, Cummings allowed White to remain out of jail on $25,000 bond, according to West. Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph, who was assigned to the case after Sparks withdrew, didn't challenge White's original request to have his plea thrown out.

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


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