CHARLESTON – A federal court settlement brings an end to two civil lawsuits against a former Mingo County circuit judge now serving time in prison.
On Monday, attorneys for former Judge Michael Thornsbury and attorneys for Robert and Kimberly Woodruff finalized the agreement during a settlement conference. Thornsbury was accused of framing Robert Woodruff, the husband of his secretary he allegedly was trying to woo romantically.
The trial was scheduled to begin this week in federal court.
Kimberly Woodruff had filed her lawsuit against Thornsbury last fall in Kanawha County. She accused him of sexual harassment, emotional distress, unlawful and malicious discharge, conspiracy and unlawful termination. Robert Woodruff filed his suit last fall in federal court.
Mike Callaghan, who represents the Woodruffs, said the settlement amount will be made public soon.
“These were tough cases,” said Callaghan, a former federal prosecutor. “I felt bad for my clients. But this settlement is appropriate and fair.
“They’ve been through so much. They need to move on. Closure is good.”
Thornsbury is serving a 50-month sentence at the minimum security Federal Prison Camp Pensacola in Florida.
Callaghan is representing two others in civil suits against Thornsbury.
Mingo County Magistrate Dee Sidebottom sued Thornsbury in June, saying she was slandered because of her stance against the corruption she claims was running rampant in the Mingo County Courthouse.
In May, Thornsbury’s niece Candice Harper filed her lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court against her uncle and others for allegedly slandering her and having her fired from her job as a deputy circuit clerk in Mingo County.
“Those cases are still ongoing,” Callaghan said. “We’ve made offers on the cases, and we’re trying to resolve them. But they haven’t done that yet.”
In June, Thornsbury was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison. After pleading guilty to federal conspiracy charges, he also was fined $6,000.
Federal officials claim Thornsbury and other Mingo County officials conspired to keep a local businessman from talking to the FBI about prescription pain medication and illegal campaign contributions received by Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. Crum was shot and killed in a Williamson parking lot last year.
According to documents, Crum allegedly owed money to signmaker George White for materials he used in his 2012 election campaign. Officials said Crum then sent an informant to buy drugs from White. Crum then had White arrested.
White’s attorney apparently told him to speak to the FBI about providing pills to Crum when he was a Mingo County magistrate, but officials say Thornsbury and the others coerced White to hire another attorney. White was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.