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Feds want Mingo allegation considered

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Federal prosecutors want a judge to consider former Mingo County chief magistrate Dallas Toler's alleged attempts to sell cocaine while out on bail when the judge sentences him next week.

Toler, 45, pleaded guilty last year to one count of voter registration fraud after he admitted that he submitted a voter registration application in April 2012 in the name of a convicted felon, who was on probation at the time.

For that charge, federal advisory sentencing guidelines recommend up to six months in prison, even though the maximum prison sentence is five months.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Johnston revoked Toler's bail after federal prosecutors said he had tried to sell cocaine.

Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum this week that what Toler pleaded guilty to warrants a sentence around six months. His alleged conduct after his guilty plea means Johnston should sentence him beyond that, according to prosecutors. 

 His sentencing is set for Monday. Toler has been in the South Central Regional Jail since Feb. 11.

Toler "was willing to involve himself in cocaine distribution just a few months removed from serving as his county's chief magistrate, while awaiting sentencing for a federal offense and in flagrant violation of his bond conditions," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby. "He already possessed the trusted criminal contacts necessary to enter the drug trade, something (thankfully) unavailable to most people and troubling in the Defendant."

Toler has not been charged over the alleged drug activity. At the hearing where Johnston revoked his bond, Toler didn't object to the cocaine allegations made by prosecutors, Ruby pointed out.

Toler resigned as magistrate and agreed never to seek or serve in public office again as part of his plea agreement with prosecutors. Toler was charged by information, which is similar to an indictment, but usually signals a defendant is cooperating with authorities and has agreed to plead guilty.

Toler's attorney, Joseph Farrell, has asked Johnston to sentence Toler to probation as "his embarrassment, humiliation and financial ruin are severe [enough] punishment."

Ruby wrote that the credit Toler would have gotten for accepting responsibility of the crime and cooperating with prosecutors shouldn't be considered during his sentencing because of the cocaine allegations.

"By committing a serious crime just after pleading guilty to the offense conduct, the defendant vividly demonstrated that he has not yet accepted responsibility for his law-breaking," Ruby wrote.

Johnston issued a warrant last month for Toler's arrest after federal prosecutors filed a motion saying "a separate investigation from the underlying prosecution revealed that the defendant has been involved in the distribution of cocaine."

Toler's "rapid entry into the cocaine business also raises a strong concern that he will commit further crimes in the future. This distinguishes him from most defendants who procure false voter registration applications, who generally pose low risks of reoffending, and takes him outside the heartland of the guidelines section for that offense," Ruby wrote.

Toler is one of several former Mingo County officials arrested in a corruption probe by the office of U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Former circuit judge Michael Thornsbury, former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former county commissioner David Baisden have pleaded guilty to various federal charges and have resigned from office.

Toler was appointed magistrate by Thornsbury in January 2012 to replace Eugene Crum, who had resigned to run for sheriff. Crum was elected sheriff that year and was shot to death in April 2013. Federal prosecutors have said an alleged drug dealer's accusations against Crum were at the center of the scheme that eventually led to guilty pleas from Thornsbury and Sparks.

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


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