Former Mingo Chief Magistrate Sentenced to 27 Months in Federal Prison
A former chief magistrate is the latest defendant sentenced to federal prison time in a probe of corruption in Mingo County, West Virginia, United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today. Dallas Toler, 45, of Delbarton, West Virginia, was sentenced to 27 months of imprisonment.
Last December, Toler admitted in federal court that he falsified a voter registration application during the 2012 primary election campaign. Toler faked the application so that a convicted felon, still on probation and thus barred from voting, could vote for Toler’s Team Mingo faction.
“Voters deserve clean elections and honest public officials,” said U.S. Attorney Goodwin in a news release.
“Politicians have to follow the law like everybody else. When they forget that, they need to pay the price. Today’s sentence is an important reminder that no one is above the law,” he added.
United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston, who imposed today’s sentence, emphasized the need to send a strong deterrent message in light of Mingo County’s history of public corruption.
Toler pleaded guilty in December 2013 and was released on bond while awaiting today’s sentencing. Last month, however, Goodwin’s office successfully asked to have Toler’s bond revoked, citing evidence that Toler was part of a conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
According to prosecutors, shortly after resigning from office as a requirement of his plea agreement, Toler began bankrolling a local cocaine dealer. The dealer became a confidential informant for investigators after local police caught him using Toler’s car to attempt to transport cocaine. In January of this year, the informant recorded Toler accepting profits from the sale of cocaine and making plans for future cocaine distribution.
At a February 13 hearing on the bond revocation motion, Toler declined to contest prosecutors’ allegations of his drug activity, and Judge Johnston revoked Toler’s bond. Toler has been in federal custody since then.
Toler joins former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden as the second official sentenced to prison in a wide-ranging corruption probe led by Goodwin’s office.
Baisden received a 20-month prison sentence in January.
The former Mingo County Commissioner admitted that he tried to extort a discounted set of tires from an Appalachian Tire store in Williamson, West Virginia. When Appalachian officials refused Baisden’s demand, he punished them by cutting off tens of thousands of dollars of county business that otherwise would have gone to Appalachian.
According to a release from Goodwin's office, two more former Mingo officials are set to be sentenced next month. Former circuit judge Michael Thornsbury will be sentenced April 21, and former county prosecutor C. Michael Sparks will be sentenced April 24.
Both officials pleaded guilty last year in a scheme to force George White, a local drug defendant, to change lawyers after they learned that White and his lawyer were informing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of alleged crimes committed by then-sheriff Eugene Crum. A criminal defendant has a constitutionally protected right to counsel of his choosing.
The investigation of Toler’s election fraud was conducted by the FBI and the West Virginia State Police (WVSP), with assistance from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. Toler’s drug-distribution activity was investigated by the FBI, the WVSP, the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department and the Williamson Police Department. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven R. Ruby and Assistant United States Attorney C. Haley Bunn are in charge of the prosecution.