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Baisden resigns as Mingo commissioner after federal guilty plea

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nearly a week after his guilty plea in federal court, Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden announced his resignation in a letter Monday, apologizing for trying to extort a local tire dealer.

"I've always had it in my heart to serve the people of this county in a manner they could be proud of," Baisden said in the letter. "It was never my intention to do anything to put Mingo County in a negative light. I love this county and I love the people. I continue to want to do what is best for them."

Baisden pleaded guilty last week to a federal charge of attempted extortion. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver on Jan. 14.

Baisden admitted that in 2009, he demanded Appalachian Tire sell him tires for his personal vehicle at a discounted price only available for government vehicles.

When Appalachian Tire refused to give him a discount, Baisden -- who was also the county's purchasing agent -- steered the county's contract to a different company, costing Appalachian Tire thousands of dollars.

Baisden was also mentioned in a federal charge filed against Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury last month alleging Baisden and other county officials took part in a conspiracy to thwart a federal investigation into Eugene Crum, Mingo County's late sheriff. Baisden allegedly conspired to cover up allegations that Crum illegally received prescription painkillers from a convicted drug dealer.

Mingo commissioners scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday to receive Baisden's resignation and begin the replacement process. Baisden's replacement would be chosen from a pool of Democratic candidates.

During a meeting last week, County Commissioners John Mark Hubbard and Greg "Hootie" Smith said they would not seek Baisden's ouster after a resident voiced concern about Baisden earning a $36,000 a year salary.

Baisden's formal replacement will be elected during next year's election, said Jake Glance, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's office. A replacement for Thornsbury, who resigned last week, would also be on the ballot.

In Monday's letter, Baisden touted his efforts to bring public water options to Mingo County residents. He also said he's been a big supporter of community-based organizations since first taking office in January 2007.

He expressed displeasure in leaving office early.

"I'm sorry that I will be unable to serve the people of Mingo County for the remainder of the term to which they have elected me," Baisden said in the letter. "I never wanted to let them down."

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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