In a famous "Monty Python" sketch, comic representatives of the Spanish Inquisition attempt to extract a confession from an elderly woman (and alleged heretic) by poking her with “soft cushions” and forcing her to sit for hours in a “comfy chair.”


Needless to say, the victim of such “torture” suffers not at all.


The scene is much too absurd to be even remotely believable (therein lies the humor), and yet life often does imitate art, even the most preposterous kind.


Former Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was given the soft-cushion-and-comfy-chair treatment. Having confessed to some of his crimes and then implicating others, he will now be punished by having to live comfortably at public expense for the next four years and two months -- or less if he’s lucky (i.e., connected), which he obviously is. It appears we will never know if or who he might have shielded from investigators.


Having pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges, Thornsbury this week was fined a paltry $6,000 and sentenced to 50 months in federal prison. Given that he had faced the prospect of a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison, the unjust judge did well.


The fact that he was charged with conspiracy and not something more serious was another “lucky” thing.


Thornsbury is the third Mingo County official sentenced in the federal corruption probe, so far.


The feds say Thornsbury and other Mingo mobsters masquerading as county officials conspired to stop local businessman George White from talking to the FBI about the corrupt activities -- illicit drug use, illegal campaign contributions, etc. -- of aptly-named County Sheriff Eugene Crum.


Someone made sure that Crum wouldn’t talk, too, by murdering him in a Williamson parking lot last year.


“Mr. Thornsbury’s conduct was shocking and appalling,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Monday. “It was worthy of a stiff sentence.”


And so it was. Nevertheless, just last week, Goodwin asked for leniency for Thornsbury, suggesting that 10 months be taken off his sentence in return for assistance provided in the probe.

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