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Wire: West Virginia judge indicted after trying to live out bad noir movie plot


photo via West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury — photo via West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

A West Virginia judge was indicted last Thursday on two charges of conspiracy after spending years trying to frame the husband of his former lover with a number of crimes. The AP reports that the indictment against Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury alleges that he

tried between 2008 and 2012 to frame Robert Woodruff for crimes including drug possession, larceny and assault. The judge had been having an affair with his secretary — Woodruff’s wife, Kim — and he tried to eliminate the competition after she tried to break things off …

The schemes involved a state trooper, the county emergency services director and another man, the indictment says, but none of them panned out.

There is no word yet on whether the Coen Brothers have optioned the story.

Thornsbury tried several plots, all unsuccessful, to incriminate Woodruff. First he asked a friend to “plant a magnetic metal box containing drugs” on Woodruff’s vehicle, but the friend refused. Then he convinced a state trooper to file a false complaint of larceny against Woodruff for stealing from his employer, but the county prosecutor, who knew about Thornsbury’s affair, convinced the magistrate to drop the charges. Thornsbury arranged to have another friend, the county emergency services director, become the foreman of the grand jury so he could dig for private information on Woodruff. And finally, after Woodruff was assaulted last year, Thornsbury somehow managed to get Woodruff “identified as the perpetrator.” Again, the charges ended up getting dismissed. We’re betting a search of Thornsbury’s garage will also turn up a lot of defective equipment mail-ordered from the Acme company.

In addition to the Thornsbury case, the AP article details several other picturesque and colorful events in Mingo county, where in 1988 a former sheriff sold his office for $100,000 and in February of this year a woman serving on the grand jury was “charged with tipping people off about indictments.” The same day that Thornsbury was indicted, county commissioner Dave Baisden, in a separate case, was charged with “trying to buy tires for his personal vehicle at a government discount, then terminating the county’s contract with Appalachian Tire when it refused to cooperate.” Compared to Thornesbury, Baisden seems to lack initiative.

Judge Thornsbury is not without his supporters, including friend and restaurant owner Peirce Whitt, who doesn’t think Mingo County has a problem:

“It has nothing to do with Mingo County or the people in Mingo County,” he said. “We’re still the good people that we are.

“I’m sure if you go anyplace, you could find a bad person,” Whitt said. “And that’s not to say Judge Thornsbury is a bad person, because he hasn’t been proven guilty yet.”

With Breaking Bad in its final season, AMC has expressed an interest in purchasing the entire county.

By Doktor Zoom

[AP/TPM]


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