Former Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks is expected to plead guilty on Nov. 18 to federal charges.
Sparks is accused of depriving a man of his right to counsel, according to information filed Oct. 9 in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia.
Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks is accused of depriving a man of his right to counsel, according to information filed Oct. 9 in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Ruby filed the information Wednesday afternoon. Sparks is named in an incident that happened in 2013.
An information is typically filed when a defendant has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.
The document alleges Sparks worked with other Mingo County officials to deprive a local drug dealer of his constitutional rights.
The information explains a local businessman, George White, printed campaign signs for several politicians in the 2012 Mingo County election.
George White, 65, owner of White's Signs, printed signs for then-magistrate Crum, who was running for sheriff. A public listing for White's Signs says the establishment is located in Delbarton.
White attempted to collect a $3,000 debt from Crum, who continually denied White payment, prosecutors said.
Crum won the sheriff's race in 2012. During his first month in office, documents further assert, Crum arranged for White to be arrested. Crum did this because he obtained prescription pills from White for his own personal use, according to federal prosecutors.
Investigators assert White dealt illegal prescription pills in Mingo County.
White eventually hired a lawyer who was in contact with the FBI with the intention of pursuing Crum. White informed the FBI that before his arrest, he unlawfully provided Crum with prescription narcotic pills on several occasions. White also told the FBI about election law violations Crum committed, according to the information.
Prosecutors said Crum discovered White's relationship with the attorney. It prompted Crum, Baisden, Thornsbury and Sparks to conspire against White through his brother, Glenn.
The group reportedly told Glenn White that if George hired another attorney - one they provided him - they would guarantee White a good plea deal.
That lawyer was Ron Rumora, a former prosecuting attorney in Mingo County.
Federal prosecutors assert these officials, including Sparks, offered to stop White and his attorney from giving more information to the FBI.
The Office of Disciplinary Council put Sparks under investigation after the prosecutor was named in an unrelated indictment in August. The ODC accused Sparks of failing to report wrongdoing and misconduct by the former Judge Thornsbury. The board submitted a petition to suspend Sparks' law license.
In the indictment filed Aug. 15, federal prosecutors accused Thornsbury of framing his romantic rival's husband in several schemes.
In a letter sent to the Office of Disciplinary Council, Sparks categorically denied any knowledge whatsoever of any conspiracy to deprive George White to his right to counsel.
This information filed Wednesday alleges that according to the U.S. Attorney, Sparks was part of the conspiracy and is ready to cooperate with the federal government.
Baisden pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge Oct. 1. He resigned from his position Monday. During a special commission meeting Wednesday, commissioner formally accepted his resignation.
Thornsbury pleaded guilt to a federal conspiracy charge Oct 2. He resigned from the bench the morning of his plea hearing.
Sparks plans to resign at 11:59:59 p.m. Thursday, according to a letter he sent to 13 News.
"Regrettably, I made a mistake in judgment and now accept the consequences," Sparks wrote. "My attempt to prevent potential injury to the reputation and drug enforcement efforts of the late Sheriff Eugene Crum was unjustifiable."
Sparks will voluntarily surrender his law license, according to his Pikeville-based attorney, Kent Varney. This move essentially qualifies as disbarment. Under state code, the ODC decides whether to grant Sparks his law license if he reapplies in five years.
"Mr. Sparks is a good person and was a good prosecutor. Unfortunately, Mr. Sparks has made mistakes. He has to accept responsibility for these mistakes," Varney said. "In the grand scheme of things, he's losing a lot. It's real sad. There's gonna be a consequence for those mistakes."
Sparks could face up to one year in prison.