Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

November 19, 2013

Ex-W.Va. prosecutor pleads guilty in corruption case

CHARLESTON (AP) — A former Mingo County prosecutor pleaded guilty Monday in a federal corruption case.

Michael Sparks pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law in U.S. District Court in Charleston. He faces a year in prison when sentenced on the misdemeanor count Feb. 24.

Sparks resigned in October after being charged in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs.

Crum was shot to death in April in an unrelated attack as he ate lunch in his vehicle.

Federal prosecutors say Sparks and others had hatched a scheme to keep Crum’s alleged drug supplier and campaign sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about the late sheriff.

“Prosecutors are the representatives of the people,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a written statement. “Instead of advancing the interests of the good people of Mingo County, Mr. Sparks chose to roll over for the special interests of a corrupt political faction.”

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

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

Federal prosecutors also implicated but didn’t charge Baisden and Thornsbury in the scheme involving White.

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.

The FBI also was investigating whether Crum committed mail fraud by submitting fake campaign disclosure forms by mail, whether Crum possessed illegal drugs and whether he intended to distribute those drugs.  

Federal prosecutors say Crum had White arrested instead of paying a $3,000 debt to the sign maker. White then went to federal agents and told them about providing Crum with pills.  

When the alleged conspirators learned White was talking, they allegedly offered him a deal. Federal prosecutors say they told White he would get a lighter sentence if he fired his lawyer and hired one they preferred.

White was eventually sentenced on drug charges.  

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

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • U.S. shipping coal overseas

    July 28, 2014 1 Story

  • Firefighters worked scenario nearly identical to tunnel incident

    David Thompson Sr., chief of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department said on Sunday that regional emergency responders had met in Wytheville, Va., in June to discuss a emergency response that was similar to the real life emergency that occurred Friday afternoon in the northbound lanes of the East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 28, 2014

  • Elite eight... Eight inducted into Tazewell High School Hall of Fame

    The Elite Eight were honored by the Tazewell High School Hall of Fame Saturday.
    Eight honorees — Glen Riddle, Charles Grindstaff, Whitney Davis, Carol Green Robertson, James “Robbie” Colley, Ralph “Moon” Mullins, James Farley and Don Necessary, Sr. — were inducted Saturday at THS in the seventh annual presentation coordinated by chairman Lawrence (Debo) Johnson. They join 50 previous honorees in the select group of former graduates, supporters and friends of THS as chosen by the HOF committee.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blue Jays Sunday Danville nips Bluefield in 12 innings

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Practice scenario nearly identical to real-life tunnel fire

    July 27, 2014

  • Crash... Two transported from Route 460 wreck

    Two people were transported to a Mercer County hospital following a two-vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on U.S. Route 460 at the intersection with Willowbrook Road.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • PRINCETON POLICE DEPARTMENT July 17-23

    July 27, 2014

  • Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27 Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27

    The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking the following individuals. Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of these individuals can call the sheriff’s office at 276-988-1167 or the Tazewell County 911 Center at  276-988-0902.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_4822.jpg All tunnel lanes open

    Traffic on Interstate 77 was still backed up about 14 miles in Bland County, Va., Saturday evening, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at about 6 p.m. that both northbound lanes of I-77 through East River Mountain were open to traffic.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 2 Slideshows

  • First on scene... Firefighters’ story: Working together put the fire out

    Lights in the southern end of the tunnel illuminate an odd design beside the catwalk near the left lane of the northbound tube of the East River Mountain Tunnel that transports I-77 from Virginia into West Virginia. Two firefighters who made the initial assault through the total darkness of the soot and smoke-filled tunnel left those marks as they slid their arms along the catwalk wall on their journey back to the light.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

National and World
Newspaper Deivery Routes Available
Sister Newspapers' News
Facebook
Local News Videos