CHARLESTON, W.Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today charged Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury in a second conspiracy to deprive a Mingo County resident of his constitutional rights. In a court filing this morning, Goodwin alleged that Thornsbury conspired with other Mingo County elected officials to cover up evidence of illegal drug use and other misconduct by late Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum.
Earlier this year, according to Goodwin, a Mingo County drug defendant began to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with information about misconduct by then Sheriff Crum, including illegal drug use and election law violations. The drug defendant is identified in today’s charging document as “G.W.” Crum learned that G.W., along with G.W.’s attorney, were providing information about Crum to the FBI.
Crum and other Mingo elected officials, including Thornsbury, conspired to protect Crum and to stop G.W. from informing to the FBI. They arranged to offer G.W. a favorable plea deal if he would fire his attorney, who was assisting G.W.’s communication with federal authorities, and replace him with an attorney chosen by Crum and the other elected officials.
In the face of this coercion, today’s charging document alleges, G.W. fired his attorney, which the officials involved believed would protect Crum from federal investigation and public embarrassment.
Today’s charge was filed in a court document known as an “information.” A defendant may be charged through an information only with the defendant’s consent, so the filing of an information often indicates that a defendant has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI and the West Virginia State Police. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney Haley Bunn are handling the prosecution.
Note: An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.