Sparks, who had been Mingo County's prosecutor since 2005, was charged with one count of deprivation of rights under the color of law. Sparks deprived convicted drug dealer George White of his rights while trying to cover up allegations that Crum illegally received prescription painkillers from White, according to the information filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steve Ruby and Haley Bunn.
White owned a sign shop in Delbarton and Crum allegedly owed him about $3,000 for election campaign materials. Instead of paying White, Crum had him arrested for selling drugs, prosecutors say.
White, with the help of lawyer Charles "Butch" West, then began giving information to federal agents about giving prescription pain medication to Crum, according to prosecutors.
When Crum found out, he allegedly approached other officials -- including Sparks and former county commissioner David Baisden -- who devised a scheme to keep White quiet. Federal prosecutors say Sparks and others told White's brother that, if White switched lawyers and stopped talking to federal investigators, he would get a lighter sentence.
Details of the conspiracy were first made public in a federal charge against former circuit judge Michael Thornsbury. Thornsbury was told about the scheme and agreed with it, the former judge admitted at his plea hearing earlier this month.
Thornsbury pleaded guilty to a felony -- conspiring to violate White's constitutional rights -- and resigned as judge.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.