Inmate involved in Mingo corruption case released

November 20, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A convicted drug dealer who was a key figure in a federal corruption case in Mingo County is out of prison until a judge hears a petition in his case.

A visiting judge ordered the release of George Reuben White, 65, of Delbarton. The Charleston Gazette reports White posted $25,000 bail and was released from Huttonsville Correctional Center on Friday.

Former circuit judge Michael Thornsbury sentenced White in May to up to 15 years in prison.

According to the order signed by visiting Judge John Cummings, Mingo County special prosecutor Keith Randolph didn’t object to White’s release.

Federal prosecutors say several former Mingo County officials hatched a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he’d bought drugs from White.

Prosecutors say Crum had White arrested instead of paying him $3,000 for campaign materials. White then went to federal agents and told them about allegedly providing Crum with pills.

To keep White quiet, county officials allegedly offered White a deal. If he switched to an attorney who was favored by Crum and Thornsbury, he would get a lighter sentence, according to federal prosecutors.

Crum was killed in April in an unrelated shooting.

Former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty last month in federal court in Charleston to conspiring to deprive White of his constitutional rights. Thornsbury resigned from the bench and will be sentenced in January.

Ex-Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks resigned in October and pleaded guilty Monday to depriving White of his constitutional rights. His sentencing is set for Feb. 24.

Former Mingo County commissioner David Baisden also faces sentencing in January on an unrelated federal extortion charge.

An unsealed federal search warrant shows that the FBI was investigating Crum on suspicion of money laundering in the weeks before he died. The document says Crum allegedly arranged to buy campaign signs with cash obtained from a doctor convicted of running a pill mill.

The warrant says Dr. Diane Shafer paid White hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to for making Crum’s campaign signs.

Shafer was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty in an unrelated case to misusing her Drug Enforcement Administration registration number.