Thursday, August 22, 2013

Judge In Love With His Secretary Tries To Send Her Husband To Jail

A West Virginia judge was arrested Thursday, August 22, on accusations that he engaged in a scheme over five years to frame a man authorities described as a romantic rival through a series of increasingly corrupt measures.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury, the sole circuit judge in Mingo County, faces two counts of criminal conspiracy for his alleged plots to arrest and imprison the husband of his secretary, with whom Judge Thornsbury allegedly had an affair starting in early 2008, according to a federal indictment released Thursday.
Judge Thornsbury, 57 years old, was released on bond but couldn't be reached for comment, and his attorney didn't return a call for comment. A person answering the phone at the judge's office declined to comment. He is expected to enter a plea at an arraignment next week.
The indictment alleges that Judge Thornsbury tried to plant illegal drugs underthe pickup truck of the secretary's husband, whom the indictment identifies only as "R.W.," some time after the judge's secretary ended the alleged affair in June 2008, but that he couldn't convince an associate to go through with the plan.
Then, the indictment alleges, the judge asked state troopers to arrest the man for thefts of scrap metal he didn't commit, and in 2009 installed a business associate and county official as the foreman of a grand jury to issue subpoenas seeking documents that could be used to indict him. The plan ended after a company receiving one of the subpoenas revealed the ties between the judge and the foreman, the indictment says.
Judge Thornsbury also tried to use his influence to have his secretary's husband imprisoned for six months after the man was the victim of a 2012 assault, the indictment alleges.
"He corrupted the system of justice in Mingo County for his own nefarious purposes," Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said at a news conference in Charleston.
According to the indictment, the secretary, Kim Woodruff, worked for Judge Thornsbury through the spring of 2009. Michael Callaghan, an attorney for Ms. Woodruff and her husband Robert, praised the criminal indictment. He confirmed that there had been a "romantic relationship" between Ms. Woodruff and the judge.
Mingo County, along the southern edge of the state bordering Kentucky, has a history of political corruption. In the 1980s, it gained notoriety when many low-level government officials were convicted of crimes from theft of public funds and bribery to jury tampering.
Legal experts, however, said they believed the indictment was unprecedented. "Obviously, this is just an indictment but what's alleged is disturbing," said Robert Bastress, a law professor at West Virginia University.
"We certainly have had corruption in the state and had judges act out of line, but a steady effort to try to undo somebody through the office of a circuit judge is pretty extraordinary," he said.
The Supreme Court of West Virginia filed a complaint against Judge Thornsbury with the state judicial investigation commission, and said that two judges were prepared to begin work in Mingo County Friday to handle cases.

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