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Ex-Mingo commissioner challenges repayment to Appalachian Tire

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A federal judge this week delayed the sentencing of former Mingo County commissioner David Baisden so he can decide if Baisden will have to pay restitution to a company he allegedly cost thousands of dollars.

Baisden, 66, of Delbarton, pleaded guilty in October to an extortion charge, admitting that he demanded Appalachian Tire sell him tires for his personal vehicle at a discounted price only available for government vehicles.

When Appalachian Tire refused to give him a discount, Baisden -- who was the county's purchasing agent, in addition to being a county commissioner -- steered the county's contract to a different company.

Baisden's sentencing for the extortion charge was pushed back until Jan. 29, according to an order filed Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge John Copenhaver. A hearing on restitution is set for Tuesday.

Baisden's attorney, Jim Cagle, filed a motion Monday challenging how Baisden's restitution to Appalachian Tire is being calculated.

In a sentencing memorandum, also filed Monday, Cagle wrote that Baisden has no salary, has lost his pension and has prostate cancer. He is scheduled for surgery on Jan. 21, the memorandum states.

The extortion charge Baisden admitted to carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. However, the advisory guidelines call for a sentence between 24 to 30 months, according to Cagle's memorandum.

Baisden is asking the judge for probation because of his health issues.

"As reflected by the numerous letters and petitions of support provided Mr. Baisden remains very popular in his community. As expressed time and time again in these submissions his popularity stems from his extensive history of public service and his dedicated work ethic. He presents as the official who was most available and always willing to assist with projects to better the communities of Mingo County," Cagle's memorandum states.

Baisden cost Appalachian Tire tens of thousands of dollars since 2009, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has said. Discounts for tires for government vehicles can range from 45 percent to 52 percent, based on the tire's size and other factors, according to Jeri Whitehead, director of purchasing for the Kanawha County Commission.

Before he was elected commissioner in 2009, Baisden was Mingo County's assessor. As part of his plea deal, he is banned from running for public office again.

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


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