Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury will plead guilty to charges of conspiring to thwart an FBI drug investigation into then-Sheriff Eugene Crum, according to information filed in federal court today.
In exchange, federal investigators will drop charges against the judge stemming from his alleged attempts to frame the husband of an ex-lover.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby filed an order Tuesday asking a federal court to continue this indictment against Thornsbury until he officially pleads guilty to other charges.
A continuance is a way to delay a trial; in this case, the U.S. attorney's office will dismiss the charges once Thornsbury pleads guilty in the other case.
Judge Thomas Johnston agreed to Ruby's request, granting a continuance in the case involving the indictment.
Thornsbury is slated to plead guilty at 1:30 p.m. October 2 in a hearing before Johnston, according to a federal order filed Tuesday. Prosecutors and Thornsbury's attorney must submit additional documentation establishing both the facts and legal grounds that will support the guilty plea. These documents must be submitted before noon Monday and can be filed jointly, according to the federal order.
Federal investigators brought their initial charges against Thornsbury after months of work on the case. In the original indictment, they accuse the judge of circumventing the justice system in repeated attempts to send Robert Woodruff to jail. At the time of the alleged misconduct, Woodruff was the husband of Kim Woodruff, a secretary for Thornsbury.
Kim Woodruff and Thornsbury reportedly had an affair, but Woodruff ended the relationship. After she ended it, federal investigators say Thornsbury tried to frame her husband so she would go back to the judge.
Instead of facing charges from that case, Thornsbury will plead guilty to charges he helped other officials in a scheme to stop an FBI investigation into alleged illegal actions by then Crum.
Mike Callaghan, the Woodruffs' attorney, said dismissing the criminal charges won't affect any potential settlement.
"Now, that does not mean the things in the original indictment did not happen," Callaghan said.
There's a different burden of proof for civil cases as well; regardless of any federal prosecution, Callaghan said he has more than enough evidence and witnesses ready to prove the accusations levied in the indictment.
He threatened lawsuits on behalf of the Woodruffs against a slew of officials. Currently he is working on entering into a formal mediation process in the hopes of reaching a deal on a settlement.
In the federal information - similar to an indictment, an information typically indicates the accused is cooperating - Thornsbury faces a completely different set of accusations. They involved Crum and several other Mingo County officials, according to the information.
Crum reportedly owed sign-maker George White $3,000 for campaign signs. After becoming sheriff, Crum had an informant buy prescription pain pills illegally from White, according to the information.
After White was arrested, his attorney Charles "Butch" West accepted an offer for White to speak with the FBI. White told the FBI he had sold pills illegally to Crum on several occasions, when Crum was a magistrate, according to the information.