WILLIAMSON – A lawsuit over a Mingo County sign maker’s arrest has been settled with county officials.
George White, who was arrested in 2013 and convicted of felony drug charges, later filed a lawsuit, claiming that then-sheriff Eugene Crum had arranged for a confidential police informant to frame him of selling oxycodone tablets. He claimed his constitutional rights had been violated.
White claimed that Crum had him arrested instead of paying a $3,000 debt for campaign signs.
National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh agreed on Feb. 22 to pay White $120,000 on behalf of the Mingo County Commission, former county commissioner David Baisden, the city of Williamson and former Williamson police chief David Rockel.
White's conviction was eventually thrown out after former Mingo circuit judge Michael Thornsbury and former Mingo prosecuting attorney Michael Sparks pleaded guilty to related charges.
Thornsbury and Sparks agreed to pay White out of their own pockets, as the insurance company refused to cover them after their convictions in federal court.
Rockel and Crum also planted evidence at White’s business, the lawsuit alleged.
Once White was arrested, he allegedly began talking to federal investigators about how he supplied Crum with pills and, when Crum found out, he and other Mingo County officials hatched a scheme to keep White quiet.
They allegedly got a message to White’s brother and told him that if he stopped talking to investigators about Crum and fired Charles “Butch” West as his attorney, Thornsbury, would give him a light sentence.
White agreed and pleaded guilty to the drug charges. Shortly after that, Thornsbury, Sparks and Baisden all were charged with various federal offenses.
Both Thornsbury and Sparks admitted to charges in relation to White. Baisden was convicted of an unrelated matter.
White spent about 240 days in jail before he was released and his sentenced was vacated and the charges dismissed.