CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Another former leader of a Mingo County courtroom admitted breaking the law Monday, becoming the fourth official to plead guilty to federal charges in recent weeks.
Ex-Magistrate Dallas "Big Dal" Toler, 45, pleaded guilty to a charge of knowingly helping a person on probation for a felony register and vote in the 2012 election. It's illegal for someone on probation for a felony to vote in West Virginia.
Toler -- who told the Daily Mail in August he is 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighs 300 pounds -- appeared Monday morning in a Charleston hearing before U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston. Assistant U.S. attorneys Steve Ruby and Haley Bunn represented the government.
After the brief hearing, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the people of Mingo County are tired of the ongoing "shenanigans" of elected leaders.
"Once again in this investigation, we have a judge who is engaged in corruption," Goodwin said, referencing ex-Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury.
"This time, corruption of the electoral process, so that Mr. Toler and his cohorts could keep their positions of power."
Thornsbury recently pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. He admitted to trying to help thwart an FBI investigation into alleged drug activity by since-slain Sheriff Eugene Crum.
Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection to his role in the scheme. Although ex-commissioner Dave Baisden allegedly also participated, he pleaded guilty to his attempts to force the county tire provider to give him a discount on tires for his personal vehicle.
Thornsbury, Sparks, Crum, Baisden, Toler and others all worked together as members of the Democratic political faction "Team Mingo."
Federal prosecutors mention the political group in their explanation of what led to Toler's decision to knowingly register a felon to vote.
With many more Democrats registered to vote in Mingo County, races have historically been decided during primary elections. Leading up to the 2012 primary, a group of Democrats ran together as a political group known as "Team Mingo."
The slate expected close races, according to the stipulation of facts included in Toler's plea agreement.
With this expectation, members of the faction "mounted a drive to identify potential voters who were expected to support Team Mingo's candidates and to register and persuade as many of those people as possible to vote in the 2012 primary election," read documents filed in federal court.
In April of 2012, Toler met a man living at one of his rental properties, according to his plea agreement.
Toler and his wife, Dollie, derived part of their income from a contract with the Mingo County Housing Authority for rentals of subsidized housing, according to the 2013 financial disclosure Dallas Toler filed with the state Ethics Commission. The 2012 filing states the pair earned money from "Dallas and Dollie Toler Rentals."
No such business is listed on the Secretary of State's website. Toler has a leadership role in several other businesses, including "Fat Boys Development, Inc.," "Big D's Preowned Autos LLC" and "TMK Business Services," according to the Secretary of State's website.
Prosecutors say there was no doubt Toler knew the man was on probation for a felony. Toler learned about the situation during their first meeting, and ran into the man at the Mingo County courthouse while he was on his way to provide a urine sample as a condition of his probation, according to the plea agreement.