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Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge stemming from a federal investigation into corruption in the county. Baisden agreed to a plea bargain from federal prosecutors and will await his sentencing in January.
That’s about all Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden had to say as he exited the U.S. District Courthouse in Charleston after pleading guilty to federal charges.
Judge John Copenhaver went over the terms of Baisden’s plea agreement just minutes before he was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond. The commissioner’s only other comment was about the people of Mingo County.
“I love them and continue to pray for me. Thank you,” he said as he climbed into the driver’s seat of a pick-up truck.
According to federal sentencing guidelines, Baisden faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for attempting to extort Appalachian Tire, a Williamson business that sold tires at a discounted rate for county owned vehicles.
In June of 2009, Baisden directed a county employee to buy a set of tires at the government price from Appalachian for his wife’s vehicle.
When Appalachian refused, Baisden threatened to take county business to another dealer and made good on the threat when managers at Appalachian didn’t respond to the voicemail left on the store’s answering machine.
“You know, this shows you that elected officials have to play by the same set of rules as everyone else,” U.S. Prosecuting Attorney Booth Goodwin said after the hearing. “What Commissioner Baisden did was abuse his power to shakedown a business for special favors.”
As a part of his plea agreement with Goodwin’s office, Baisden agreed to resign as commissioner before his sentencing date, is banned for life from ever seeking elected office and waived his right to appeal to his sentence.
Goodwin said he also agreed to fully cooperate in any future investigations into corruption in Mingo County by the federal prosecutor’s office, an investigation that is on going.
“Our investigation into Mingo County corruption continues. I would anticipate further developments,” he said.
Baisden’s sentencing is scheduled for January 14 in Charleston. He said he will wait until that day to resign as County Commissioner.
Mingo County Judge Michael Thornsbury is expected to plead guilty to charges stemming from a separate investigation Wednesday, October 2.