White to face second arraignment on drug charges

Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmedia

January 5, 2014

Rachel Baldwin


CHARLESTON - A defendant who was arrested on drug charges in Mingo County and who was recently released after information came forth that he was deprived of his choice of attorney, will be arraigned once again next week in court.

George Reuben White, 65, of Delbarton, was arrested last year, one of a large number of defendants named in indictments and the subjects of drug raids conducted under the command of former Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, who was fatally shot last April 3. This arrest began a chain of events that brought down Mingo County’s circuit judge and prosecuting attorney.

White, is charged with three counts of selling oxycodone to a confidential informant in December 2012, one count of possessing oxycodone and morphine with intent to deliver last February, and one count of possessing oxycodone with the intent to deliver.

He will be re-arraigned on the charges at 9 a.m. Thursday in Mingo Circuit Court, according to Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph, who has been assigned to represent the state in this case. White’s guilty plea had been thrown out in the last court proceeding held in this case, but the charges against him remain.

White was arrested after allegedly selling drugs to an undercover officer sent by Crum. According to federal prosecutors, White then began talking to federal investigators about providing prescription drugs to Crum while he was serving as a magistrate.

When Crum found out, prosecutors say that he and other county officials, including former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former county commissioner David Baisden, allegedly plotted to keep White quiet. The defendant was told he would get a light sentence if he switched lawyers and fired Charles “Butch” West, and stopped talking to investigators.

White did switch lawyers (hired Ron Rumora) and pleaded guilty to drug charges in front of the county’s then-circuit judge, Michael Thornsbury, who supposedly signed off on the scheme to halt the federal investigation into Crum, according to federal prosecutors. White has since rehired West, along with Attorney David Varney, to serve as his legal representatives.

Sparks has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating White’s constitutional rights by not allowing him to choose his own lawyer. Thornsbury has also pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate White’s rights. Sparks and Thornsbury resigned from their elected positions as part of their plea deals with federal prosecutors. Baisden pleaded guilty to an extortion charge and also resigned.

Circuit Judge John Cummings, who has been filling in until a replacement is chosen for Thornsbury, released White from prison in November on $10,000 bond. He was allowed to remain on bond after his plea was vacated.

Randolph said bond could be addressed at the arraignment Thursday. Other dates in the case might also be set, according to the prosecutor.