By Rachel Dove
CHARLESTON - Members of the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board met Wednesday and voted to terminate the pension of former Mingo County circuit judge Michael Thornsbury, citing grounds of “less than honorable service.”
This ruling voids 16 years, seven months of credit in the Judicial Retirement System and two years, two months credit in the Public Employees Retirement System for Thornsbury.
The pensions for circuit court judges are equal to 75 percent of the salary of active circuit court judges. At his current salary of $126,000, that means the retirement board’s action Wednesday erases what would have been a $94,500 annual pension for Thornsbury, effectively leaving him with a minimal income after he is released from federal prison.
Thornsbury pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to deprive defendant George White of his constitutional rights. As judge, he approved a scheme to offer the man who was facing drug charges a lighter sentence if he would stop talking to federal investigators about former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, who was a close friend and political ally of Thornsbury.
In exchange for his guilty plea to the felony charge in the case involving White, and for his cooperation in providing information concerning political corruption in the county that involved members of the “Team Mingo” faction, federal prosecutors agreed to drop another felony charge that the disgraced judge had previously been indicted on.
This charge involved Thornsbury plotting with friends and associates to frame the husband of his secretary and former mistress for crimes he did not commit, in hopes that his secretary would agree to rekindle their affair, even if she was only forced to for financial reasons.
Thornsbury was sentenced June 9 to 60 months in prison, then had 10 months shaved off for assisting with the federal investigation of Mingo County officials which, according to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, is ongoing and is expected to end in further indictments and arrests.
Thornsbury appealed his sentence late last month.