Former Mingo County Commissioner Sentenced To Federal Prison For Extortion
David Baisden stripped local vendor of nearly $60,000 in county business for refusing to give him special discount
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin today announced that former Mingo County Commissioner David L. Baisden was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for using his public office to commit extortion.
In June 2009, Baisden, 67, of Delbarton, West Virginia, shook down the Appalachian Tire store in Williamson, West Virginia, for a deep discount on tires for his personal car, threatening to cut off the store’s county business unless it complied. When Appalachian refused Baisden’s demand, he used his authority as the commission’s purchasing agent to make good on his threat, stripping Appalachian of nearly $60,000 in county business.
More recently, Basiden played a key role in a scheme to obstruct a federal investigation of former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. In early 2013, Baisden learned that a Mingo County drug defendant was informing to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding alleged criminal conduct by Crum. Baisden and other county officials orchestrated a scheme to remove the informant’s defense attorney, who was encouraging the FBI cooperation, and replace him with another attorney handpicked by Baisden. Former Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury and former Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks have pleaded guilty in connection with that scheme.
“The people of Mingo County and southern West Virginia are sick and tired of crooked politicians,” said U.S. Attorney Goodwin. “They deserve honest leaders who will work hard to make West Virginia a better place, not feather their own nests. These prosecutions should send a strong message: politicians are not above the law, and there are serious consequences for abusing the public’s trust.”
Goodwin’s office forced Baisden off the Mingo County Commission last October as part of a plea agreement. That agreement barred Baisden from ever seeking or serving in public office again.
As part of Baisden’s sentence, United States District Court Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., ordered him to repay nearly $8,000 to Appalachian Tire and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to reimburse the profits he cost them. After he completes his prison time, Baisden will spend three years on federal supervised release.
The FBI and the West Virginia State Police are conducting the investigation of corruption in Mingo County. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney Haley Bunn are in charge of the prosecutions.