In West Virginia, Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury is the only judge in his county. However, federal prosecutors have charged that he had enough time on his hands to frame have an affair with his secretary and frame her husband for a series of crimes, including the planting of drugs. Thornsbury, 57, is charged with two counts of conspiracy against rights to frame what U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin calls “his romantic rival.”
Thornsbury allegedly had an affair with his secretary and wanted her to leave him in 2008. According to prosecutors, he then arranged to have a friend plant drugs in the husband’s pickup truck. He then planned to have a state trooper friend investigate and find the drugs. However, the friend never carried out the plan.
Thornsbury pressured the state trooper to get an arrest warrant for the husband for stealing “scrap mine bits” from the coal company where he worked and selling those. The husband was subsequently arrested but charges were dismissed. It turns out that the husband had the permission of the mine to refurbish the bits and sell them back to them.
Thornsbury then allegedly heard that the husband had gotten into an argument with a relative outside of a convenience store in 2012. The relative pulled a gun. Thornsbury is accused to pressuring police to arrest the husband even though he was the one who called the police and a videotape showed the relative as the clear aggressor. The charges of assault and battery were later dismissed.
I cannot find any record of any discipline for the officers who made these arrests without good cause.
The most serious offense is the planting of the drugs conspiracy in my view. Thornsbury could argue that he has the same right as other citizens in reporting crimes or suspicions so long as he did not threaten or coerce the officers. He has insisted that he is innocent and will be acquitted.
What is ironic is that Thornsbury first ran as a reformer in 1988 in a county that has seen flagrant corruption including a fire chief who ran a drug ”carry-out” and a sheriff who allegedly protected the business. Thornsbury ran for the state House of Delegates saying that voters “can choose the old way, or they can take the best opportunity they’ve had to vote good, honest candidates into office.”
Here is the code on the underlying offense:
18 U.S.C. § 241 : US Code – Section 241: Conspiracy against rights
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth,Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured –
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
Source: LA Times