Legal Ethics

3 lawyers probed in ethics case after county judge, prosecutor and magistrate are federally charged

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Three West Virginia lawyers are being investigated by legal ethics authorities following federal criminal charges against a now-former Mingo County circuit judge, prosecutor and chief magistrate.

The three attorneys either currently have or formerly had a prosecutorial role in the county, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

They are: Ronald Rumora, a private defense attorney who formerly served as a county prosecutor, and Matthew Chandler and Wesley White, who both worked as assistant part-time prosecutors until last week.

Chandler works at a law firm operated by Mingo County Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith, and Smith told the newspaper in an email that Chandler resigned last week to avoid any appearance of a conflict prior to a commission meeting at which Smith’s vote was needed to name a new county prosecutor.

The former prosecutor, Michael Sparks, resigned after being criminally charged with a misdemeanor in a federal corruption case. Former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty earlier this month in a related federal corruption case.

Rumora, Chandler and White did not respond to requests for comment by the newspaper.

See also: “County prosecutor is charged, resigns, but claims credit for judge’s plea in related corruption case”

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