Attorney alleges defendant became victimbecause former sheriff owed him $3,000

Last updated: December 01. 2013 7:26AM - 863 Views
Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmedia.com



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CHARLESTON - A convicted drug dealer who has been released from federal prison until a final decision is made in his case will soon have his day in court.


George Ruben White, 65, of Delbarton, had entered guilty pleas in April to charges of possession of oxycodone with intent to deliver and possession of morphine with intent to deliver, and was sentenced in May to a prison term of 1-15 years on both counts, which were set to run concurrently. He was given credit for the 120 days he had already served on home confinement.


The case has been at the center of a federal investigation into corrupt politics in Mingo County for several months now, as facts were uncovered that indicate White may have been targeted by former Sheriff Eugene Crum, stemming from a debt he owed to the defendant.


A hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Mingo County Courthouse before Circuit Judge John Cummings, who was appointed to serve in that position following the resignation of former Judge Michael Thornsbury. Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph was appointed to represent the state in this matter.


Counsel for the defendant filed a motion to throw out the charges based on a 2006 Supreme Court decision in the case of United States vs. Gonzales-Lopez, which states that wrongly depriving an attorney of his counsel of choice means his conviction can be reversed. Cummings released White from the Huttonsville Correctional Center on Nov. 15, when the petition filed by Williamson attorney Ron Rumora on Oct. 31 is heard and a ruling is made.


The defendant was the owner/operator of White’s Signs and had furnished Crum with campaign signs and other items utilized during his 2012 run for office and, according to the defendant, the bill was never paid. Crum allegedly owed White $3,000. Federal investigators believe Crum targeted White, who was known to him as a drug dealer, and arranged for an undercover informant to make a drug buy. Crum then used this information to obtain an indictment against him.


After he was taken into custody White was represented by Attorney Charles “Butch” West, who arranged for his client to speak with the FBI concerning allegations that he had, on more than one occasion, sold prescription pain pills to Crum while he was serving as a Mingo County magistrate.


According to federal documents, when the sheriff became privy to what White was alleging he approached other officials, including former Commissioner David Baisden and former Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks, who are said to have helped devise a scheme to keep White quiet. They enlisted the assistance of White’s brother and told the defendant that if he stopped talking to investigators, fired West and hired an attorney that was favored by them as well as by former Thornsbury, he would receive a lighter sentence. White then fired West and hired Rumora.


Two former officials have already entered pleas relating to this case. Sparks pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of depriving White of his constitutional rights and Thornsbury pleaded to a felony charge of the same offense. Sparks faces a possible sentence of up to one year in prison when he goes before the judge next Feb. 24, and Thornsbury is looking at 3-10 years behind bars when he is sentenced on Jan. 13.


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