CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Federal prosecutors want a judge to give former Mingo County prosecuting attorney Michael Sparks the maximum one year in prison when he's sentenced next week for his part in a scheme to protect the county's late sheriff.
That one year in prison wouldn't be enough, according to prosecutors, if it weren't for Sparks' cooperation with their investigation.
Sparks, 44, pleaded guilty in November to one charge of deprivation of rights under the color of law, a misdemeanor.
"His conduct was deplorable. He grossly abused his office as prosecutor, trampling a citizen's constitutional rights in order to obstruct a federal investigation and protect his political faction's dominance," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steve Ruby and Haley Bunn wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday. "It is rare that a case plainly warrants a sentence at the statutory maximum, but this case surely does."
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Johnston also could fine Sparks up to $100,000.
In November, Sparks admitted that he was part of a scheme to deprive George White of his right to have the attorney of his choice. The scheme was an attempt to thwart an investigation into the county's sheriff, Eugene Crum.
White owned a sign shop in Delbarton. Crum owed him about $3,000 for election campaign materials -- but instead of paying the bill, Crum had White arrested for selling drugs, federal prosecutors say.
White, with the help of lawyer Charles "Butch" West, then began talking to federal agents about giving prescription pain medication to Crum, according to prosecutors.
Then-Mingo County commissioner David Baisden and Crum told Sparks they would try to talk White into firing West, in order to keep them from talking. Baisden, according to the stipulation of facts Sparks pleaded guilty to, offered White a more favorable plea agreement if he fired West.
After White did fire West, Sparks gave White the more favorable plea agreement, Sparks said.
Baisden was sentenced last month to 20 months in federal prison on an unrelated extortion charge.
Crum was shot to death in Williamson on April 3 of last year.