CHARLESTON – The following is information from the grand jury indictment of Judge Michael Thornsbury handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston.
Summary – “In 2008 and 2009, again in 2012, the defendant, Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury engaged in criminal conspiracies to violate the constitutional rights of victim R.W., using the authority of the police, the state grand jury, and the courts. R.W. was the husband of Judge Thornsbury’s secretary, with whom Judge Thornsbury had an extramarital relationship. Judge Thornsbury conspired to plant illegal drugs on R.W’s. pickup truck; to have R. W. arrested for thefts he did not commit; to commandeer a state grand jury and use it to oppress R.W. and his family: and, after an incident in which R.W. was victim of an assault, to arrange for R. W., rather than the perpetrator, to receive an exceptionally harsh sentence.”
The indictment states that Thornsbury was the sole circuit judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit (Mingo County.)
From in or about January 2008 or earlier, through the spring of 2009, K. W. was a female employee who worked as Thornsbury’s secretary. R.W. was K.W’s. husband during that same period.
The indictment states that Trooper Moore of the West Virginia State Police (WVSP) was assigned to duty in Mingo County. The indictment further states Thornsbury “purposely cultivated a relationship with Tpr. Moore that allowed Thornsbury to influence Tpr. Moore’s performance of his official duties and his use of his authority of the WVSP.”
The indictment further states that “Jarrod Fletcher was a close friend of Judge Thornsbury .” Fletcher serves as Mingo County’s Director of Homeland Security. It also states that Fletcher, along with a third partner, became business partners. The business was called Williamson Renaissance Development, Inc., which was created to acquire and manage real estate in and around Williamson. The business jointly borrowed approximately $1.6 million from Community Trust Bank and approximately $200,000 from the Bank of Mingo. The indictment also states that Fletcher and Thornsbury were joint owners of a wine shop in Williamson.
Further names mentioned in the indictment are Jeff Cline, Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks and the late Sheriff Eugene Crum.
The Romantic Relationship
The indictment states Thornsbury “initiated a romantic relationship with K. W., his secretary. On numerous occasions …. Thornsbury and K.W. engaged in intimate physical contact.”
It further states Thornsbury “insisted K.W. leave her husband, R.W., in order to establish a deeper romantic involvement.”
“Despite the judge’s insistence, K.W. refused to leave R.W.,” the indictment reads. K. W. terminated the romantic relationship with Thornsbury, citing her marriage. Thornsbury “continued to approach K.W. privately in their shared workplace, insisting that K.W. resume their romantic relationship and engage in intimate physical contact with him.”
The Scheme to Plant Drugs
The indictment further states Thornsbury told Fletcher that R.W. was selling illegal drugs that he concealed underneath his pickup truck. “Judge Thornsbury told Fletcher to relay this information to Tpr. Moore and to other members of the WVSP with whom Fletcher was acquainted, and Fletcher did so.”
In or about the second half of 2008, Judge Thornsbury telephoned Cline late one evening to summon him to his judicial chambers. “Thornsbury showed Cline a metal box with magnets attached to it. The box contained a small plastic bag containing illegal drugs. Judge Thornsbury directed Cline to plant the box under the frame of R.W’s. pickup truck.”
Once the drugs were planted, Thornsbury would telephone Fletcher and have him notify Moore.
Cline decided not to follow through with the plan and did not plant the box, thus the plan failed.
The Arrest of R.W.
R.W. was eventually arrested for allegedly stealing scrap mine bits. However, Prosecutor Sparks knew that the Judge had exerted great influence over Tpr. Moore in his official duties. Sparks disqualified himself from the matter with R.W.
The State Grand Jury Scheme
Thornsbury is alleged to have misused the state grand jury to vindictively oppress R.W.
Thornsbury had appointed Fletcher as foreperson of the Mingo County Grand Jury. It is unlawful for an officeholder under the laws of the state to serve on a grand jury.
The indictment accused Thornsbury of issuing subpoenas to harass and oppress R.W., members of his family and his co-workers.
The indictment further states that the Judge instructed Fletcher to use his position as grand jury foreman to carry out Thornsbury’s scheme without involvement of a prosecutor.
On or about January 22, 2009, Foreperson Fletcher, acting on Thornsbury’s direction, brought Tpr. Moore before the grand jury to testify, under oath, who falsely testified that informants from drug investigations he was conducting had informed him that R.W. was involved in the thefts from H. Coal Company. In truth, Moore knew Thornsbury, not informants, was the source of the allegations.
The indictment states that Thornsbury, together with others known and unknown to the grand jury, did knowingly conspire to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate.
The indictment further states that the Judge did use Fletcher and Moore’s official positions to commandeer the authority of the grand jury. “Subpoenas that Judge Thornsbury created and caused to be created for the vindictive purpose of harassing and oppressing R.W. and his family, and to procure an indictment of R.W. for the same vindictive purpose.”
Count Two (Conspiracy Against Rights)
On or about January 25, 2012, R.W., was involved in an incident at a convenient store in Gilbert. A police report authored by a Gilbert police officer described an incident that R. W. was departing the store when he encountered some family members. An argument with R.W. was started and a fight ensued. A weapon, .380 caliber pistol, was also produced during the scuffle.
R.W. retreated into the store and called police. Witnesses reported that the family members were the aggressors.
Despite the police report, on or about February 23, 2013, nearly a month after the incident, Gilbert Police Department Officer Nathan Glanden, who did not conduct the initial investigation of the incident, obtained an arrest warrant for R.W. on charges of assault and battery, and arrested him.
Thornsbury directed Cline to instruct Sparks that R.W. should receive a sentence of six months confinement. Usually a defendant in Magistrate Court with no criminal history convicted of a battery would be sentenced only to pay a nominal fine.
Sparks offered R.W. a plea agreement, however R.W. and his attorney refused the offer and stated they would go to trial.
According to the indictment, “A day before R.W.’s trial was to begin, contrary to Judge Thornsbury’s instructions, Sparks moved to dismiss the charges against R.W. stating ‘After careful review of the video evidence, further prosecution of the charges would not be consistent with the public interest in the fair administration of justice.’”
The indictment states that R.W. “did not receive due process of law, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 241.”
(Editor’s Note: This is only a partial breakdown of the 18-page indictment against Judge Michael Thornsbury. The entire document can be found at www.williamsondailynews.com)