Mingo County Circuit Judge facing federal charges - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Mingo County Circuit Judge facing federal charges

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Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury is accuse of engaging in a criminal conspiracy Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury is accuse of engaging in a criminal conspiracy

Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury turned himself in to federal authorities on Thursday following an indictment.

(Full indictment can be found here)

The indictment says Thornsbury had an extramarital relationship with his secretary and conspired to plant illegal drugs on her husband's pickup, have him arrested for thefts he did not commit, commandeer a state grand jury to oppress the husband and his family.

After an incident in which the husband was the victim of an assault, Thornsbury arranged for the husband, rather than the perpetrator, to receive "an exceptionally harsh sentence," according to the indictment.

Neither the husband nor the secretary are identified by name in the indictment. They are identified only as R.W. and K.W., respectively.

Listed as helping Thornsbury in the alleged conspiracy but not indicted or charged with any offenses were Trooper Brandon Moore of the West Virginia State Police and Jarrod Fletcher, Mingo County's director of Homeland Security and a business partner of Thornsbury's.

Thornsbury appeared with his attorney, Steve Jory, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley Aug. 15. Tinsley set his arraignment for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 and released him on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby read a list of people Thornsbury cannot speak with while out on bond, including Fletcher, Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks, county commissioner Greg Hootie Smith and Mingo County Magistrate Judge Dallas Toler.

The West Virginia State Police issued a statement saying the agency has launched its own parallel  investigation into the trooper who is named in Thornsbury's indictment. The trooper has been placed on paid administrative leave.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals voted Aug. 15 to suspend Thornsbury without pay and also to suspend his law license. The Judicial Investigation Commission recommended to the court that Thornsbury be suspended without pay and that his law license be suspended pending the resolution of the criminal charges against him. 

Before that vote, West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin, in anticipation of the recommendation from the Judicial investigation Commission on Thornsbury's future service in Mingo County, asked Cabell County Senior Status Judge John L. Cummings to serve in Mingo County. According to a news release from the West Virginia Supreme Court, Cummings will be prepared to serve starting at 9 a.m. Aug. 16.

Michael O. Callaghan, the attorney who represented R.W., released the following statement:

"It was my honor to represent RW through both frivolous criminal cases. While I was successful in getting both charges dismissed, my client should never have been placed under the stress of being charged criminally, nor should he have spent time in jail for crimes he did not commit. When the allegations came to light today that the charges were bogus and the work of Judge Thornsbury for personal gain, my client was both shocked and saddened.

I represent both RW and KW as they begin the process of putting their lives back together and seek their own justice. At this time, my clients are unwilling to make any public statements or do any interviews.

I applaud the efforts of the United States Attorney's Office for seeking justice in what appears to be a terrible abuse of a public office."

(RELATED NEWS: Mingo County Commissioner arrested on extortion charges)

In an Aug. 15 news conference, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the investigation into Mingo County corruption is ongoing.

When asked about other people mentioned in the indictments, Goodwin said only Thornsbury and Baisden would be charged for actions in those indictments. Goodwin also said there are no other pending charges at this time for Thornsbury and Baisden.

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