Mingo corruption case sparks review

MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WYMT/WSAZ) - A case of political corruption is causing a domino effect in the county's court system.

Mingo County's only circuit judge, Michael Thornsbury, was criminally charged last week.

He's accused of trying to frame his secretary's husband -- after she ended an affair with him. Thornsbury is also accused of trying to rig a grand jury in order to criminally charge the husband.

While facing those charges, Thornsbury is off the bench, and he's leaving behind much more work than what's on the docket.

"We intend to review those cases," Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks said about cases involving State Trooper Brandon Moore and Jarrod Fletcher.

Fletcher is the judge's close friend and business partner; a relationship that crossed the line in the courtroom.

Investigators say the judge wanted to get his mistress's husband out of the way and behind bars, so he appointed Fletcher as a grand jury foreperson to help make that happen.

State trooper Brandon Moore is accused of filing a false complaint leading to the husband's arrest.

It's a convoluted scheme that's now raising questions about if there are more cases that need a second look. Mark Curry says he's living proof.

"The judge had personally asked me to endorse him on the radio," Curry said.

Not long after he refused, Curry says was arrested by Trooper Moore for DUI, even though all tests were negative.

"I was kept on the side of the road for about an hour," Curry said. "It was just a terrible experience."

Curry's case made its way through the system, and ultimately the charges were dropped. However, attorney Tim Koontz says that wasn't the case for some of his clients.

"I'm gonna aggressively look at every one of those cases," Koontz said. "I consider it my duty to every one of them."

He plans to re-open several prior cases: particularly one where his client's home was searched by Trooper Moore without a warrant, and the warrant was then signed hours later by the judge.

"Now more than ever of course we would be open to discussing cases if credible evidence comes forward," Sparks said.

More than 100 prior cases are now resurfacing as the investigation into the judge remains far from closed.

Sparks says he doesn't anticipate a different outcome in many of the cases, but says it's his office's duty to give them a second look.

He also says the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will be reviewing all of Judge Thornsbury's cases.

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