Former Mingo prosecutor Michael Sparks sentenced to 12 months in - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Former Mingo prosecutor Michael Sparks sentenced to 12 months in prison

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Former Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks was sentenced July 7 to 12 months in prison for his role in in a political scheme.

Sparks pleaded guilty in 2013 to depriving Mingo County political sign maker George White of his constitutional rights. White was sent to prison without due process and he was pressured into changing attorneys. The scheme was orchestrated to shield the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from White's testimony to FBI officials that Crum purchased prescription painkillers from White.

Judge Thomas Johnston said Sparks, as a prosecuting attorney, had special responsibilities.

He said Sparks did not treat White fairly in the “Team Mingo” attempt to benefit the late Crum.

“I don’t believe your role was passive,” Johnston said. “Serious penalties will await corruption.”

The judge said he hopes to use Sparks and the other members of the Democratic faction that referred to itself as "Team Mingo" as examples to anyone else thinking about being part of the corruption scheme in Mingo County.

It was largely questioned in court July 7 whether Sparks played a passive or key role in the corruption schemes, Johnston said he wasn't sure if Sparks was a “principle,” but later explained he believed the late Crum was, in fact, the principle in the scheme, while Sparks used his role as a county prosecutor to let the scam play out.

Before hearing his sentence, Sparks said he hoped his cooperation in the investigation would save him from the harshest penalties.

“I hope what I’ve done redeems me and promotes the pursuit of justice rather than injustice,” Sparks said to the court. “I’ve tried to serve the public well; took risks because of my moral and official duty.”

Sparks also commented on his cooperation in being the “quarterback” to Judge Michael Thornsbury, saving the United State government time and money.

White's current attorney told media he was not happy with Sparks' sentence but that he would not argue it. Sparks' attorney petitioned the judge for an alternative sentence, such as community service.

Johnston said he would have given Sparks a longer sentence if it would have been possible under state statute. Sparks also was sentenced to one year of probation after his release along with a $500 fine.