- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A figure in the federal Mingo County corruption probe is suing several former county officials and others, claiming they violated his constitutional rights and damaged his reputation.

Media outlets report that George White, 65, filed the lawsuit recently in Mingo County Circuit Court. The defendants include former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, former County Commissioner David Baisden and former prosecutor Michael Sparks.

Sparks pleaded guilty last year to federal criminal charges of depriving White of his constitutional rights. Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive White of his rights. Both men are awaiting sentencing.

Baisden was sentenced in January to more than a year and a half in prison on an unrelated federal extortion charge. He pleaded guilty in October 2013 to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount in 2009, then terminating the county’s contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.

Thornsbury and Sparks were accused of protecting the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs from White, who is a campaign sign maker.

Federal prosecutors say Crum had White arrested in early 2013 instead of paying $3,000 he owed for campaign signs made by White. White then went to federal agents and told them he provided Crum with pills.

Prosecutors say Sparks, Thornsbury and Baisden cooked up a scheme to keep White from talking to the FBI about Crum. White was told that if he switched lawyers and pleaded guilty to drug charges, he would receive a lighter sentence from Thornsbury.

White pleaded guilty in April 2013 to state charges of delivery of oxycodone and possession of oxycodone and morphine with an attempt to deliver. He was sentenced in May 2013 to one to 15 years in prison. Circuit Judge John Cummings later vacated the plea and ordered a new trial. Cummings dismissed the charges in February without prejudice, which means they cannot be filed again.

Crum was killed in an unrelated shooting in April 2013.

White’s lawsuit seeks compensation for lost profits and business, moving costs, damage to his reputation, emotional distress and attorney’s fees. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages.

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