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Ex-Mingo commissioner to reimburse tire stores

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden agreed this week to pay almost $8,000 in restitution to two tire companies as part of his plea agreement on a federal extortion charge.

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

He agreed to pay $5,489 to Goodyear and $2,236 to Appalachian Tire -- a total of $7,725 -- according to an agreement with federal prosecutors filed Thursday.

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.

U.S. District Court Judge John Copenhaver is scheduled to sentence Baisden on Jan. 29. The extortion charge Baisden admitted to carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and a maximum $250,000 fine. However, the advisory guidelines call for a sentence between 24 to 30 months, according to a sentencing memorandum filed earlier this month by Baisden's attorney, Jim Cagle.

Copenhaver canceled a hearing scheduled for Friday after the restitution agreement Baisden made with Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby was filed.

"In light of Mr. Baisden's minimal disposable income and net worth," the agreement calls for Baisden to make 36 monthly payments of about $152 to Goodyear and payments of about $62 to Appalachian Tire.

In the sentencing memorandum, Cagle wrote that Baisden has no salary, has lost his pension and has prostate cancer. He has asked the judge to grant Baisden probation.

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 a 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, Baisden had to resign as commissioner and agree never to run for public office again.

Baisden was also mentioned in charges filed against the county's former circuit judge, Michael Thornsbury, and prosecuting attorney, Michael Sparks.

Federal prosecutors said Sparks and Baisden devised a scheme to keep George White quiet about providing the county's former sheriff with prescription drugs. They say Thornsbury knew of and approved of the scheme.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive a suspected drug dealer of his constitutional rights, while Sparks pleaded guilty to depriving that man of his rights. Baisden was never charged in that incident.

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


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