CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Declaration of Information order was released Thursday morning from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charleston outlining an alleged scheme in Mingo County that was concocted and acted upon to prevent a defendant indicted on drug charges from “spilling the beans” on Eugene Crum, who was sheriff at the time.
According to the order, George White, of Delbarton, W.Va., was the owner and operator of White’s Signs and was hired by political candidates in the county to make signs and other promotional items for their campaigns. This was a common practice that had occurred for many years.
In 2012, while a candidate for sheriff, Crum is said to have ordered several thousand dollars’ worth of signs and promotional items for his campaign from White on credit. After the general election was over in November and Crum was elected Sheriff, his campaign still owed White approximately $3,000 and the business owner advised Crum of the outstanding debt and insisted that it be paid.
When Crum assumed the sheriff’s position Jan. 1, he still owed the $3,000 to White. On or about Jan. 24, 2013, Sheriff Crum arranged for a confidential informant to attempt to purchase three oxycodone tablets from White. The informant went to White’s business and subsequently reported to Crum that he or she had indeed purchased oxycodone tablets from White. Sheriff Crum signed a police report recording the controlled purchase, as did Carl David Rockel (Williamson Police Chief C.D. Rockel). The information order states that Rockel was a close associate and political ally of Crum. He had been named as the Drug Task Force Commander for the county after Crum relinquished that position upon becoming Sheriff.
On Jan. 25, Crum and Rockel jointly sought a warrant to search White’s business, based on the Jan. 24 controlled purchase of narcotics. A search warrant was issued that same day.
On Jan. 30, Chief Rockel testified before a Mingo County grand jury that White had unlawfully delivered controlled substances. After hearing that testimony, the grand jury returned an indictment against White for possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver. On Feb. 1, White was arrested on the charges in the indictment against him and Sheriff Crum actively participated in the arrest. At this time, Crum still owed White $3,000.
Following his arrest, White retained attorney Charles “Butch” West to represent him in his defense. A short time after the indictment and arrest, White and his attorney met with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. In this meeting, White informed the agents that on multiple occasions prior to his arrest, he unlawfully provided Crum with prescription narcotic pills at Crum’s request. White advised the FBI that these unlawful deliveries occurred while Crum was an elected magistrate. White also advised the FBI of election law violations committed by Crum. After this meeting, Sheriff Crum learned that White had informed the FBI about criminal conduct he had allegedly committed.
Michael Thornsbury, then serving as the sole circuit judge in Mingo County, was a close friend, associate and political ally of Crum’s. Sheriff Crum and Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks allegedly informed Thornsbury that White had provided the FBI with incriminating information regarding Crum.
In March of this year, Crum, Sparks and Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden and others known and unknown to the U.S. Attorney, devised a scheme to prevent White from further communicating to the FBI and others incriminating information regarding Sheriff Crum. Crum, Sparks and Baisden allegedly arranged a meeting with Glenn White, the brother of the defendant. In this meeting, Crum and Baisden, among others, advised White that Judge Thornsbury would give White a light sentence if he fired West as his attorney and replaced him with one favored by the judge, Crum, Baisden and Sparks. Immediately after this meeting took place, Glenn informed his brother, the defendant, of the offer and told him that he must fire West in order for this to happen.
At that time, Crum informed Thornsbury of the scheme to coerce White into firing West and replacing him with another attorney to prevent White from further communicating with the FBI and others regarding incriminating information about him. Thornsbury agreed that it would be in White’s best interest to obtain new counsel, by which the judge meant that the replacement of counsel would result in a lighter sentence for White.
Later that same day, White, along with his attorney Charles West, appeared at a hearing before Thornsbury at which time, West informed the judge that he had been fired as attorney of record for White. Thornsbury then approved Attorney Wests’ replacement with Attorney Ron Rumora, whom Crum, Sparks, and Baisden allegedly wanted to represent White. Sparks is then said to have arranged for a more favorable sentence for White as a reward for him agreeing for replacement of counsel.
After White fired West as his attorney and obtained Rumora as counsel, Crum directed one of his deputies to obtain a statement from White saying that Crum had never provided controlled substances to the sheriff.
In March, Thornsbury, Crum, Sparks, Baisden and Glenn White, and other known and unknown to the U.S. Attorney did knowingly conspire to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate, under color of law, a person that is George White, in the free exercise of rights and privileges secured to him by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including his right to counsel of his choosing under the 6th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 241.
It was part of this conspiracy that Crum and Baisden, among others, with the approval of Thornsbury, would and did advise White that he would receive a lighter sentence if he fired West as his attorney and hired an attorney (Rumora), for the purpose of preventing White from further communicating with the FBI and other law enforcement about information regarding Sheriff Crum.
Further information will be provided as to whether those listed in this Information Order are charged with crimes or are indicted as soon as it becomes available.