WILLIAMSON, W.Va. -- George White isn't going back to prison, but he said Monday that he still fears for his life.
"There's a lot of people that don't like me," White said, as he quickly walked from the Mingo County Courthouse to his car.
White, whose arrest for selling drugs eventually led Mingo County's circuit judge and prosecuting attorney to resign and plead guilty to federal crimes, had the two charges against him dismissed Monday morning.
Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph, the special prosecutor in the case, said last week he planned to ask Circuit Judge John Cummings to drop the charges against White because of problems with evidence. In his motion, Randolph said evidence from White's arrest last year is missing, and noted that the police officers who arrested him are no longer police officers.
"With no reluctance whatsoever, because our system demands fair trials, I'm going to grant the motion to dismiss filed by the state," Cummings said at Monday morning's hearing.
The judge dismissed the charges with prejudice, meaning they cannot be filed again.
White, 65, was arrested last year after Eugene Crum, then the county's sheriff, allegedly sent an undercover investigator to buy pills from White. Federal prosecutors say that Crum had White, who owned a sign-making business in Delbarton, arrested rather than pay him about $3,000 for campaign signs.
Once White was arrested, he allegedly began talking to federal investigators about how he supplied Crum with pills. When Crum found out, federal prosecutors say, he and other Mingo officials -- including then-Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks and then-County Commissioner David Baisden -- hatched a scheme to keep White quiet.
They allegedly got a message to White's brother and told him that if he stopped talking to investigators about Crum and fired West as his attorney, the county's then-circuit judge, Michael Thornsbury, would give him a light sentence.
White allegedly agreed and pleaded guilty to the drug charges. Shortly after that, Thornsbury, Sparks and Baisden all were charged with various federal offenses. Baisden has already pleaded guilty to an extortion charge that was unrelated to White's case. Thornsbury and Sparks are awaiting sentencing on charges regarding depriving White of his constitutional rights.
After the Mingo County officials were charged, White asked to withdraw his guilty plea and rehired West. Randolph didn't object, and Cummings ordered a new trial for White. Now, with the charges against him dismissed, that trial won't take place.
"It appears as if you didn't get a fair trial from the beginning," the judge told White on Monday. "It's possible the judge who issued the search warrant at that time was taking action against you."
White thanked Randolph after the hearing.
Randolph said in his motion asking that the charges be dismissed that because the warrant to search White's business was issued by Thornsbury, it wouldn't have held up in court. He also wrote that he hadn't been provided with the documents he requested that would show what evidence was collected after White's business was searched.