CHARLESTON – Former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was sentenced Monday to slightly more than four years in prison in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Thornsbury was accompanied by his family, who were in tears throughout the hearing.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston sentenced Thornsbury to 50 months in prison. The former circuit judge had been given 60 months, but 10 months were knocked off for his cooperation in the cases of Dave Baisden and Michael Sparks.
One of Thornsbury’s victims, George White, told the court he lost his livelihood and his health deteriorated from the stress of the ordeal.
According to U.S. Assistant District Attorney Steve Ruby, the defendant’s cooperation in the cases of Dave Baisden and Michael Sparks, along with the testimony that Thornsbury was willing to give against them, led to their conviction. His testimony continues to be a factor in other prosecutions and convictions.
Thornsbury was allowed to speak as well, saying he had relived the 30-second conversation he had with former sheriff Eugene Crum over and over again.
“If I could go back and undo it, I would a thousand times. My misguided loyalty to my friends and my personal ambition and pride allowed the law to be clouded,” Thornsbury said.
Thornsbury apologized to White and went on to apologize extensively to his family, loved ones, and to all of those who supported him and believed in him.
Ruby said, “I cannot emphasize enough that he was a judge, not just a political official or leader; he was a judge.”
“He sat on a bench, in a robe, flanked by an American flag, and sentenced White to 15 years. In all my years of being an assistant prosecutor, I’ve never heard of a judge who stopped a defendant from choosing counsel to defend himself,” Ruby said. “The people of Mingo County have totally lost their faith in the legal system, and it will be hard to get back, because if it can happen once, it will happen again.”
Thornsbury was also assesssed a $6,000 fine. He will be sent to either Pensacola, Fla., or Montgomery, Ala. That decision has not yet been made.