CHARLESTON – A Mingo County contractor is accusing a former Mingo County circuit judge and others of conspiracy and violating his civil rights.
David Heath Ellis, owner of Devco Building and Construction, filed the complaint in federal court against former judge Michael Thornsbury, former state Trooper Brandon Moore and former Mingo County emergency services director Jarrod Fletcher.
Ellis claims that in 2009, the defendants conspired to deprive of him of his civil rights by “causing a totally frivolous subpoena” to be served upon him, Devco, Hampden Coal Company and its managers. At the time, Devco and Hampden had contracts that equaled about $100,000 per month in work for Devco.
“Defendants used the subpoena in an attempt to shore up their frivolous efforts to indict Robert Woodruff and frighten management of Hampden Coal Company into complicity with an allegation that Robert Woodruff was guilty of grand larceny,” the complaint states.
It goes on to say Thornsbury, Fletcher and Moore “also wished to intimidate and harass” Ellis because he is the nephew of Woodruff.
“Thornsbury was fearful that Robert Woodruff’s wife, Kim Woodruff, who was formerly defendant Thornsbury’s secretary, would file a sexual harassment suit against him,” it states. “Defendant Fletcher was, at the time, serving illegaly as foreman of the grand jury, which position was prohibited to him by law because he was at the same time an agent of the state.”
It says Moore, who was a state Trooper at the time, “paraded around the Hampden Coal Company headquarters in a deliberate effort to make the officers and employees uncomfortable and to interfere with Hampden Coal Company’s relationship with the plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
Ellis says he “was unaware that he was part and parcel of a much wider conspiracy to seduce the wife of his uncle, Robert Woodruff, until August 2013, when the U.S. Attorney … uncovered the circumstances of Robert Woodruff’s illegal arrest and frivolous prosecution.”
He also says Hampden Coal officials “became fearful they were on the wrong side of the Mingo County political structure” and stopped doing business with Ellis and his company. He says that has costs him more than $4 million over the last four years.
Ellis accuses the defendants of deprivation of civil rights, libel and negligence. He says their actions caused him and his company to experience financial loss and severe emotional distress. He seeks compensatory damages, court costs, attorney fees and other relief.
Charleston attorney Richard Neely of Neely & Callaghan and Williamson attorney Tish Chafin of the H. Truman Chafin Law Firm are representing Ellis.
Earlier this year, Thornsbury was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison. Federal officials claim Thornsbury and other Mingo County officials – including former Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks and former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden – conspired to keep a local businessman from talking to the FBI about prescription pain medication and illegal campaign contributions received by former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. Crum was shot and killed in a Williamson parking lot last year.
Thornsbury is one of four former Mingo County official sent to federal prison in the federal corruption probe. Thornsbury was Mingo County’s only circuit judge for 17 years.
Earlier this year, he also was sued by a former Mingo County deputy circuit clerk who claims Thornsbury slandered her and had her fired.
Also, a Mingo County magistrate recently sued Thornsbury and other officials, saying they conspired to force her to retire so they could replace her with a magistrate who would comply with their wishes.
Fletcher and Moore were given immunity in exchange for their testimony in the federal corruption probe.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of W.Va. case number 2:14-cv-24641