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Delay sought in ex-Mingo Circuit judge sentencing

Dec. 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- Federal prosecutors are seeking a delay in the sentencing of a former Mingo County circuit judge so they can have more time to investigate information he provided in a corruption probe.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby filed a motion Thursday asking a federal judge to delay Michael Thornsbury's Jan. 13 sentencing by 90 days, according to media reports.

"If the Defendant is sentenced on that date, the full value of his cooperation will be unknown and thus unavailable for the court to consider," Ruby's motion said.

Thornsbury's attorney, Stephen Jory, said he wouldn't oppose the delay.

Thornsbury, 57, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He remains free on $10,000 bond.

Thornsbury resigned in October as the county's circuit judge before pleading guilty to conspiring to deprive campaign sign maker George White of his constitutional rights.

The charge states Thornsbury helped devise a scheme to keep White quiet about allegedly providing Sheriff Eugene Crum with prescription pills.

Federal prosecutors say Crum had White arrested instead of paying him $3,000 owed for campaign materials. White then hired an attorney and went to federal agents.

County officials allegedly then offered White a deal. If he switched to an attorney who was favored by Crum and Thornsbury, he would get a lighter sentence, according to federal prosecutors.

Crum was killed in April in an unrelated shooting.

Earlier this year White began serving a one-to-15-year sentence for two counts of manufacturing or delivering narcotics.

A Mingo County judge tossed White's guilty plea last week and said a date would be set to arraign him again.

Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has pleaded guilty to depriving White of his constitutional rights and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

In exchange for Thornsbury's guilty plea, federal prosecutors said they would dismiss charges against him in a separate case in which the judge repeatedly tried to frame his former secretary's husband for false crimes to eliminate him as a romantic rival.

Thornsbury faces civil lawsuits from his former secretary and her husband. Kim Woodruff's lawsuit accuses Thornsbury of sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Robert Woodruff's lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

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