The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

January 30, 2014

Former Mingo commissioner sentenced to 20 months

CHARLESTON — A former Mingo County commissioner was sentenced to more than a year and a half in prison Wednesday on a federal extortion charge.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. ordered David Baisden to report by April 4 to start his 20-month sentence.

Baisden is the first of four former public officials in Mingo County to be sentenced in a widespread probe of corruption that also snared 2013 convictions against former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, former county prosecutor Michael Sparks and ex-magistrate Dallas Toler.

Baisden pleaded guilty in October to trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount in 2009, then terminating the county’s contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.

Earlier this month, Baisden agreed to pay a total of $7,700 in restitution to Appalachian Tire and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. He will make monthly payments over three years. He had faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Baisden’s attorney, Jim Cagle, had sought probation, noting that Baisden had no salary, lost his pension and has prostate cancer.

Federal prosecutors sought a prison term between two and 2  1/2 years, saying that Baisden abused his office powers and that stern punishment was the only effective deterrent to public corruption in a county that had seen plenty of it in recent years.

“It is outrageous for a public official to abuse his power in this way,” assistant U.S. attorney Steve Ruby told the court.

Baisden read a statement before sentencing in which he apologized to Appalachian Tire, the Mingo County community and his co-workers. He asked the judge to look at his lifetime achievements, not his mistakes.

“I’m 67,” Baisden said. “Until now I’ve never been in trouble.”

The courtroom was packed with supporters. Two spoke of Baisden’s generosity, including volunteering his own time to dig graves in the community, securing wood to rebuild a ruined bridge for a widow, and donating money for church and youth sports causes.

“The court recognizes you’ve done many good deeds,” Copenhaver said. “You’ve done well to help your neighbors.”

Prosecutors have said Baisden’s actions cost Appalachian Tire tens of thousands of dollars. The Delbarton resident resigned from the county commission a week after his guilty plea. He also was the county’s purchasing agent.

The government also mentioned Baisden’s participation in an investigation that charged Sparks and Thornsbury with protecting the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs from a campaign sign maker. Authorities said Sparks and Thornsbury kept the sign maker, George White, from talking to the FBI about Crum, who was killed in an unrelated shooting last April.

Baisden wasn’t charged in the case involving Sparks and Thornsbury, but the government noted that uncharged conduct was “an appropriate factor” for the court to consider at sentencing.

Last year, Sparks pleaded guilty to depriving White of his constitutional rights. )Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive White of his rights.

Former county magistrate Dallas Toler pleaded guilty last year to federal charges that he illegally registered a convicted felon to vote in the 2012 primary election.  

Toler, Sparks and Thornsbury resigned and will be sentenced later this year.


Text Only
West Virginia
  • Woman convicted in teen’s slaying moved

    A Monongalia County teenager has been transferred to a state prison to complete her sentence for the slaying of another teenager.
    The Lakin Correctional Center near Point Pleasant said Friday Rachel Shoaf has been booked at the Division of Corrections prison. Shoaf turned 18 last month and had been held in a juvenile facility.

    July 26, 2014

  • Board suspends clinic operator’s license

    A West Virginia board Friday suspended the license of the operator of a pain management clinic where investigators found syringes were being reused. It was the second disciplinary action involving the doctor’s license within a decade.

    July 26, 2014

  • Candidates: Leave global warming debate to scientists

    Two West Virginia congressional hopefuls said during their first candidate forum matchup Thursday that the global warming debate is better left to scientists.
    Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney added that other countries should step up in reducing carbon emissions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVa. man sues GM over wife's death

    A West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against General Motors Corp., claiming a defective ignition switch in a Chevrolet Cobalt caused a 2006 accident that killed his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Feds commit to health studies on spilled chemical

    After largely dismissing the possibility of long-term health problems, federal officials will conduct more studies on chemicals that spilled into West Virginia’s largest drinking water supply in January.
    In the next two months, federal health officials are also heading back to West Virginia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Park Service assesses impact of W.Va. attractions

    Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

    July 23, 2014

  • This weekend's 'Dirty Girl' race canceled

    Organizers of a Charleston running event that was canceled for this weekend says it won’t issue refunds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Reporter heard truck backfiring, not gunshot

    Similar sounds in different circumstances create different reactions. That is so for WVVA reporter Annie Moore, who last Monday told police someone fired a gun at her while she was shooting file footage in the area of a recent murder.

    July 19, 2014

  • Cornhole champions being decided in Charleston

    Cornhole, the strange-sounding game made popular in backyards and at football tailgate parties, is taking on a serious side this week.
    The American Cornhole Organization will crown its world champions as about 380 competitors from 17 states vie for $10,000 in prize money in singles and doubles events.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads