Two Mingo officials expected to plead guilty to federal charges - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Two Mingo officials expected to plead guilty to federal charges

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Ruby has asked the federal court to schedule a guilty plea hearing for a Mingo County commissioner who was arrested last month on extortion charges.

David Baisden was charged with extortion under color of official right, specifically, attempting to obstruct, delay and affecting commerce and the movement of an article and commodity in commerce.

According to the indictment, Baisden was the purchasing agent for the Mingo County Commission. He had the authority to purchase goods and services on behalf of the commission and to choose the suppliers of those goods and services.

Baisden pleaded not guilty in an Aug. 21 arraignment hearing in federal court in Charleston. His trial was scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 15.

As of Sept.18, Baisden had not resigned as county commissioner. Fellow commissioner Greg 'Hootie' Smith said if Baisden does resign, the commission will accept applications for a new candidate.

Besides Baisden and Thornsbury, prosecutors in the Southern District of West Virginia charged four elected officials between 2012 and August 2013. Plea agreements required all four officials to resign.

The federal court also entered an order Sept. 17 canceling a pretrial motions hearing scheduled Sept. 26 for former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, whose indictment was released Aug. 15, the same day as Baisden's.

The indictment against Thornsbury alleges the former circuit judge had an extramarital relationship with his secretary and conspired to plant illegal drugs on her husband's pickup, have him arrested for thefts he did not commit and also commandeer a state grand jury to oppress the husband and his family.

Mike Callaghan, who represents the secretary and her husband, was planning to file civil charges against the Gilbert Police Department, the West Virginia State Police, and the State Supreme Court. He said Sept. 18 he would postpone his civil case and that the parties involved are ready to mediate.

Other sources have said Thornsbury is ready to plead guilty and cooperate with the government.

Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks also filed a petition Sept. 18 asking for a special prosecuting attorney to be appointed for the case of the State of West Virginia v. Tennis Maynard, the man charged with murdering the late Sheriff Eugene Crum. Both Sparks and Crum were mentioned in Thornsbury's indictment.

The request reads that Sparks "recently became privy to information that would materially limit Sparks' responsibilities in the Maynard case if Sparks complies with Sparks' duty to make timely disclosure to the defense and tribunal of all unprivileged mitigating information in other cases."

Federal prosecutors say around June 2009, Baisden directed a commission employee to purchase a set of tires for a vehicle that belonged to Baisden and his wife. The tires were to be purchased from Appalachian Tire at the government price.

When Appalachian Tire learned the tires were to be used on Baisden's personal vehicle, it refused to sell them at the discounted price. The commission employee told Appalachian Tire that it risked losing the county's business, but the store refused to sell them at the discounted price, according to the indictment.

On June 12, 2009, Baisden left a voicemail with Appalachian Tire saying that if it did not sell him the tires at the discounted price, the store would lose the county's business, the indictment states. The store did not respond to the threat.

On June 15, Baisden again phoned the store to tell the manager that it had lost the commission's business.