Link between slain sheriff and pill mill doc under investigation

Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmail.com

October 18, 2013

CHARLESTON - Details contained in the affidavit of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent was unsealed last Friday that contained information that links the late Sheriff Eugene Crum and a local physician, Diane Shafer, who served time in federal prison for operating a “pill mill” in downtown Williamson.

According to the affidavit prepared by Special Agent Michael Hansen filed on May 7 of this year, the information was used to acquire a warrant for Crum’s department issued iPhone, which he was in possession of at the time of his murder. The request for a warrant argued that the phone contained evidence that Crum conspired to tamper with a federal informant. The deceased was also, according to the warrant, under investigation on suspicion of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, unlawfully possessing controlled substances and potentially conspiring to tamper with an informant.

The affidavit stated that the iPhone traveled with the body of Crum to the State Medical Examiners office and was later released to the custody of the West Virginia State Police. Authorities reviewed it’s contents on April 19.

Shafer was recently released from federal custody after serving a six month stent behind bars for operating a pill mill. She was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and forfeited $144,550 to the government. Authorities say that during the time in which she had her clinic, she wrote more than 118,000 prescriptions to people who came to her office that were forced to pay cash, between the dates of 2003 and 2010. The medications she typically prescribed were Hydrocodone and Xanax.

Hansen wrote in the warrant that Shafer allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from writing prescriptions that she, along with others, used a small portion of to pay for Crum’s campaign signs, stickers and other miscellaneous campaign items that were ordered from White’s Signs, owned and operated by George White. The Delbarton business owner is now in prison for selling illegal drugs. According to records, it appeared that Crum failed to report these contributions in his campaign finance forms. When White had approached the late sheriff about receiving payment for the signs with an alleged balance of $3,000 remaining on the bill, reports stated that Crum directed him to contact his associates, one of them being Shafer.

Hansen gave sworn statements in the affidavit alleging that Mingo County Attorney Charles “Butch” West, who was representing White following his indictment on the drug charges, contacted the FBI in February about information his client had regarding criminal behaviour of Crum. The meeting between the special agents and White took place on Feb. 22. White informed the feds that he had sold prescription pills to Crum on numerous occasions while he served as magistrate. Crum launched an all out war against drugs when he assumed office and developed “Operation Zero Tolerance”, a multi-agency effort to rid Mingo County of drugs.

White spoke with the agents again in March and informed them that he had been contacted by former Commissioner David Baisden, a known political ally of Crums’, who allegedly told him if he fired West and hired an attorney that was in their group, he would receive a lighter sentence. The scheme was allegedly concocted to prevent “embarrassment and possible prosecution” of the sheriff and to prevent further contact from taking place between White and the FBI.

White later reneged on his story and told Crum that he had not told investigators anything about the drug deals. Crum ordered White to give a sworn statement regarding this information to a deputy that is said to have recorded it.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told the media that the investigation into Mingo County corruption is ongoing and he declined to give any additional information on the remaining open cases.