Former Chief Magistrate enters plea in federal court

Rachel Baldwin

December 3, 2013

Rachel Baldwin

CHARLESTON - A fourth member of Team Mingo entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court Monday morning and will be sentenced on one count of procuring a false voter registration on March 10, 2014, at 2 p.m.

According to documents filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia; Charleston Division, Dallas L. Toler, who served as Chief Magistrate in Mingo County since being appointed to the position in Jan. of 2012 following the resignation of Eugene Crum, and who was officially elected to continue serving in the 2012 election, allegedly assisted an individual who was a felon and on probation in registering to vote in the primary election.

Toler appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston Monday morning accompanied by his Attorney, Joseph M. Farrell, Jr. He stood accused of knowing in April 2012, that an unnamed person was on probation for a felony at the time the voter’s registration application was submitted. He was charged on Oct. 9 with falsification or concealment of material acts in an Order of Information, and resigned from office that same day. The felony charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to 5 years.

In an exclusive interview with the Williamson Daily News, Toler issued the following statement:

“I was humbled to be elected to the office of Magistrate, and I feel that I did my very best for the people of Mingo County. I was fair to everyone who appeared before me, and I can say that I have no regrets for a job well done. I appreciate the support I am still receiving from family, friends and acquaintances who have shared kind words as well as prayers through these rough times. I ask that you please continue in this manner and always know that my family and I thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Toler is the latest Mingo County official to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from a widespread probe of corruption in the Southern West Virginia coalfield. Former County Prosecutor Michael Sparks, who resigned in October, pleaded guilty in November (misdemeanor) to a charge of depriving a defendant convicted of dealing drugs (George White) of his constitutional rights. Sparks and former Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury were charged in a scheme to allegedly protect the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum had, while serving as a magistrate, bought drugs from White.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to deprive White of his rights and resigned from the bench. White had pleaded guilty in April and has since, filed a petition in Circuit Court seeking a dismissal of his plea. This case will be heard this afternoon at 2 p.m., in front of Judge John Cummings. A special prosecutor from Boone County has been assigned to represent the state.

Also in October, former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden entered a guilty plea to extortion in an unrelated case of extortion and resigned from office. Thornsbury and Baisden are scheduled to be sentenced in Federal Court in January and Sparks in February.

According to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, the investigation into political corruption in Mingo County continues and said there is still a lot to be done before the federal agents can truly say they are finished.