Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was arrested Thursday after federal authorities allege he targeted his ex-lover’s husband and used his position on the bench to manipulate criminal charges against the man.
The indictment, returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Charleston, charges Thornsbury with conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of his former secretary’s husband. An indictment means that grand jurors have decided that enough evidence exists to warrant a criminal trial.
The former secretary and her husband were identified by their initials in the indictment. A statement from the lawyer for the former secretary and her husband identified them as Kim and Robert Woodruff, according to The Associated Press.
Prosecutors allege Thornsbury, the county’s only circuit judge, put his business partner in charge of a Mingo grand jury as foreman, plotted to plant drugs on Robert Woodruff and tried to get the man sent to jail.
Thornsbury, a Democrat, “persecuted his secretary’s husband, his romantic rival” and used the justice system for his own “nefarious purpose,” Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said in a Thursday news conference.
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