Mingo prosecutor denies role in 2nd conspiracy

September 25, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks denied allegations of wrongdoing for a second time Monday as he fights to keep his law license.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel wants the state Supreme Court to suspend Sparks’ license for “egregious misconduct” linked to suspended Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury.

Last week, Sparks denied knowledge of an alleged scheme Thornsbury had to frame a romantic rival for false crimes.

On Monday, Sparks denied being part of a second scheme that federal prosecutors say was designed to protect the reputation of a former sheriff who bought drugs from a campaign-sign vendor. Sheriff Eugene Crum died in April in an unrelated shooting.

Sparks hasn’t been charged with any crime and said he “never knowingly assisted Judge Thornsbury in violating any rule of judicial conduct or other law.”

Thornsbury is cooperating with prosecutors and expected to plead guilty in the second conspiracy, which allegedly targeted George Ruben White. He’s serving one to 15 years for delivering narcotics under a plea agreement Sparks approved.

Federal prosecutors say Crum owed White $3,000 and devised a scheme to put White in prison rather than pay.

Crum allegedly sent a confidential informant to buy oxycodone from White, then arranged for his arrest.

White then met with the FBI and told them he’d sold the sheriff drugs.

Prosecutors allege Crum and the others ended the flow of information by having White fire his attorney and hire one of their choosing in exchange for a lighter sentence.

But Sparks says the sentence is not light “under any objective standard.” Rather, he argues, it was tougher than more than 82 percent of the plea deals accepted between 2010 and 2013.

Sparks denies violating professional rules, including an obligation to report misconduct. He said he can’t report what he doesn’t know.