EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSHearing Set For Mingo Prosecutor To Argue Why Law License Should Not Be Suspended
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Associated Press
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: Bob Aaron, Kennie Bass
Reported: Sep. 26, 2013 10:07 AM EDT
Updated: Sep. 26, 2013 11:38 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The West Virginia Supreme Court is giving embattled Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks a chance to argue why his law license should not be suspended.
The hearing is Oct. 16 in Charleston.
In its third demand for the suspension Thursday, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel says Sparks lied to the court when he said last week that he did not know about alleged corruption by a now-suspended circuit judge.
It said Sparks admitted to the FBI that he knew about crimes and misconduct that federal prosecutors say Judge Michael Thornsbury committed.
In one case, federal prosecutors said Thornsbury tried to frame a romantic rival for false crimes. The judge is expected to plead guilty next week in a second case aimed at protecting a former sheriff's reputation by putting a drug supplier in prison.
Williamson lawyer Butch West has become one of the key players in the allegations against Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks. In his answer to the disciplinary counsel, Sparks claims West never provided his office with a document that alleged former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum used his office to arrest a man he had allegedly purchased drugs from in the past.
But West, who represented George White, the drug suspect, is sticking to his claim that he gave the paperwork to Sparks not long before White was fired in a plot allegedly orchestrated by Judge Michael Thornsbury , Sparks and others to keep the sheriff's reputation untarnished.
In a Supreme Court filing, Sparks said he never got the report and never took part in the meeting where plans were allegedly made to keep White from talking to the FBI. He claims West wants Judge Thornsbury's job after his expected guilty plea. West denies that he is campaigning for the position.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel said embattled Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks lied to the state Supreme Court when he said last week that he didn't know about alleged corruption by a now-suspended circuit judge.
The group's third complaint, filed late Wednesday, again demands suspension of Sparks' law license.
It said Sparks admitted to the FBI that he knew about crimes and misconduct that federal prosecutors say Judge Michael Thornsbury has committed.
In one case, federal prosecutors said Thornsbury tried to frame a romantic rival for false crimes. The judge is expected to plead guilty next week in a second case that was aimed at protecting a former sheriff's reputation by putting a drug supplier in prison.
Sparks maintained his innocence Thursday in a response filed by his attorney, Lonnie Simmons.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The attorney representing embattled Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has filed a response with the state Supreme Court to the latest efforts by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to have his law license suspended.
Reacting to an amended petition filed by the Disciplinary Counsel on Wednesday, Attorney Lonnie Simmons asked the Supreme Court for more time to have an opportunity to give the court a more detailed response “once all of the materials identified are provided, particularly if the court is inclined to grant the emergency relief requested.”
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel wants the state Supreme Court to suspend Sparks’ license for what it calls "egregious misconduct" linked to suspended Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and other county officials. Sparks denied knowing about an alleged scheme Thornsbury had to frame a romantic rival for false crimes.
Sparks also has denied being part of a separate scheme that federal prosecutors said was designed to protect the reputation of a former sheriff who had bought drugs from a local sign maker.
Sparks has not been charged with any crime and has said he had no role in that scheme, either.
In his latest response to the high court dated Thursday, it said the amended emergency petition filed by the Disciplinary Counsel said Spark’s license should be immediately suspended based on this new information:
* In a television interview, Sparks made a statement about investigating the indictments returned from the grand jury, where it turns out the foreperson was not statutorily eligible to serve on the grand jury. “As noted in the first response filed with this court, so far, none of the defendants who were convicted based upon the indictments issued by that grand jury has filed any challenge to their convictions based upon this ground. Of course, our case law regarding the impact of any alleged prejudice when there is some defect in an indictment, but the defendant subsequently either pleads guilty or is convicted by a grand jury, would not support habeas corpus relief in this circumstance. Petitioner also is not aware of what actions Sparks has taken in connection with the indictments issued by this grand jury,” Sparks’ response said.
* Charles Stanford West claims to have provided a motion to Sparks detailing the wrongdoing of Sheriff Eugene Crum. Respondent (Sparks) “absolutely denies ever receiving any motion from Mr. West, who was the unsuccessful candidate running against respondent in the 2012 election for the Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and who presently is actively seeking the judgeship. The court record does not show any such motion was ever filed by Mr. West and respondent has witnesses in his office, who will testify no such motion was ever filed in the office, to the best of their knowledge.”
* George White, who was prosecuted by the respondent and who entered a guilty plea to two felonies, states in his affidavit that his brother told him something about a meeting that took place with Sparks, Dave Baisden, Sheriff Crum and Dave Rockel. “Ignoring for a moment the hearsay problem with this assertion, respondent categorically denies any such meeting ever took place and he will have other witnesses to confirm this denial,” Sparks’ response said.
Sparks said in his latest response that many of the new issues raised are “more semantics than substance,” and he denies that he violated any of the rules of professional conduct or committed any crime.
“The granting of the emergency relief requested by the petitioner would be professionally, personally and economically devastating to respondent, who has strived to carry out his ethical duties in Mingo County in front of a judge who, as indicated in the allegations asserted in the indictment and information, was very powerful,” Sparks’ response said.
The Associated Press also contributed to this story.
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