By Kyle Lovern
September 26, 2013
CHARLESTON, W.Va.— Plea hearings have been set for a Mingo County commissioner and circuit judge, both facing federal charges.
Commissioner David Baisden is facing extortion charges and he is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in federal court in Charleston.
Michael Thornsbury, who is currently suspended from his position as a circuit judge, is set to plead guilty to charges of conspiring to thwart an FBI drug investigation into then-Sheriff Eugene Crum, according to information filed in federal court.
Thornsbury is slated to plead guilty at 1:30 p.m. October 2.
In exchange, federal investigators will drop charges against the judge stemming from his alleged attempts to frame the husband of an ex-lover.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby filed an order this week asking a federal court to continue this indictment against Thornsbury until he officially pleads guilty to other charges.
A continuance is a way to delay a trial. Judge Thomas Johnston agreed to Ruby’s request, granting a continuance in the case involving the indictment.
Prosecutors and Thornsbury’s attorney must submit additional documentation establishing both the facts and legal grounds that will support the guilty plea. These documents must be submitted before 12 noon Monday.
The 66-year-old Baisden, who is also the former Mingo County Assessor, is accused of trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount, then terminating the county’s contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate. That business is located in West Williamson.
At the time of the alleged extortion, Baisden also was serving as purchasing agent for the county. He has since been removed from that post. Baisden has not attended any commission meetings since his arrest.
Mingo County Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith has stated that Baisden would resign from the commission as part of his plea deal. Baisden is free on a $10,000 bail.
(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)