W.Va. County Reeling as Judge, Official Indicted

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) -- Even in southern West Virginia, where corruption is as much as a part of life as coal, people are shocked by allegations that a judge commandeered the legal system in a years-long attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes he didn't commit.

Federal prosecutors indicted Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury on two counts of conspiracy Thursday, just hours after indicting County Commissioner Dave Baisden on extortion charges. Thornsbury attorney Steve Jory declined comment while Baisden's attorney didn't return messages.

The state Supreme Court has suspended Thornsbury and his law license, and a replacement judge is set to take over his caseload Friday.

Both officials are free while awaiting trial, but the indictments are painful news in a community still reeling from the assassination of its sheriff in April.

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