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White-Collar Crime

Ex-prosecutor who proclaimed innocence takes plea in federal misdemeanor case

Posted Nov 19, 2013 3:10 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A popular West Virginia prosecutor who got too close to the wrong people pleaded guilty on Monday to a federal misdemeanor charge.

Michael Sparks, 44, had proclaimed his innocence early on, as his alleged cohorts in a Mingo County corruption scandal, including a local judge, were charged and convicted. But as the case unfolded, it became clear that he, too, had crossed an ethical line.

"Regrettably, I made a mistake in judgment and now accept the consequences," said Sparks in a written statement he provided to WOWK, better known as 13 News. "My attempt to prevent potential injury to the reputation and drug enforcement efforts of the late Sheriff Eugene Crum was unjustifiable."

The sheriff, who was killed earlier this year as he sat in his patrol vehicle, is said by prosecutors to have been purchasing and using drugs. Sparks and others in county government allegedly conspired to deprive a drug dealer of his constitutional rights by pressuring him to replace his legal counsel with another attorney they recommended, the article recounts.

"Michael is a good father," said attorney Kent Varney, who is representing him. "He was a good prosecutor. His mistake was he allowed political manipulation of his office."

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "County prosecutor is charged, resigns, but claims credit for judge’s plea in related corruption case"

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