Last week, our editor told Kanawha Commission President Kent Carper that corruption in the Mingo County Courthouse is a "cesspool." Carper replied: "No, a cesspool serves a beneficial purpose -- but the Mingo mess is much worse."
Decent Mingo residents must feel disgust because parts of their county government became worse than a cesspool. Look at the record:
• Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury previously declared in federal court that he was "absolutely not guilty" of framing his ex-lover's husband -- but now he apparently is ready to plead "absolutely guilty" to obstructing a U.S. investigation into murdered Sheriff Eugene Crum.
• The late Sheriff Crum seemed a local hero after his assassination, but now federal charges say he bought illegal pills from a Williamson man, then arranged the man's arrest to avoid paying his $3,000 bill for campaign signs. Crum previously admitted sex with a drunken teenage girl in the back of a police car.
• Mingo Commissioner David Baisden reportedly conspired to help block the FBI probe of Crum -- and Baisden reportedly has agreed to plead guilty to forcing a tire dealer to give him a discount on personal tires, or risk losing the county tire contract.
• Mingo prosecutor Michael Sparks allegedly abetted the attempt to thwart the Crum investigation. The State Bar's ethics committee asked the state Supreme Court to revoke the prosecutor's law license.
• Former Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel, who became Sheriff Crum's chief deputy, allegedly helped Crum arrest the drug dealer -- an action that relieved the sheriff from paying his $3,000 bill.
• Gilbert Assistant Police Chief Nathan Glanden supposedly helped Judge Thornsbury frame his ex-lover's husband. Gilbert officials won't say whether any action will be taken against the officer.
• State Police officer Brandon Moore, a former Trooper of the Year, supposedly helped frame the husband, and is under suspension during a State Police investigation.
Aside from all the courthouse sleaze, a coal personnel contractor is accused of removing money from the Bank of Mingo in small amounts to hide his scheme to pay miners in cash under the table, to avoid workers' compensation costs.
West Virginia's southern coal counties have been plagued for generations by shabby courthouse politicos who fill government jobs with factional minions and build political machines. Scandal after scandal have ensued as these factions steal votes to keep themselves in power.Former Gazette Publisher W.E. "Ned" Chilton III demanded "sustained outrage" -- endless pounding to wipe out political chicanery. Local county prosecutors rarely can attack their political colleagues. Thank heaven for federal agents who perform the necessary task of cleansing county courthouse cesspools.