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W.Va. court revokes ex-prosecutor’s law license

October 15, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The state Supreme Court announced Friday it has revoked the law license of a Mingo County prosecutor who resigned earlier this week amid continuing corruption scandals in the southern West Virginia community.


Sparks resigned Wednesday, the same day the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged him with conspiracy. His lawyer announced at the time he would agree to surrender his law license and drop plans to fight the license suspension that the Office of Disciplinary Counsel had been demanding.


His lawyer said Sparks regrets his mistakes.


Sparks is accused in a scheme to protect former Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations he’d bought drugs from a campaign sign-maker. Prosecutors allege Sparks, former county commissioner Dave Baisden and former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury offered a lighter sentence if the dealer fired his lawyer and hired one they preferred.


Crum was killed in April in an unrelated shooting, and signmaker George White is serving one to 15 years under a plea agreement on drug charges.


The federal information, a charging document that signals a defendant’s cooperation in the criminal scheme, was essential to its success.


In his resignation letter, Sparks called his desire to protect Crum’s reputation “unjustifiable,” but noted that he helped bring Thornsbury to justice.


The longtime judge pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge last week and could get up to 10 years in prison when sentenced in January.


In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors said they would dismiss charges against Thornsbury 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.