CHARLESTON — What a difference a month makes.
Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden, who adamantly declared in Charleston Federal Court that he was not guilty as charged by the Federal government changed that plea today to “guilty.” In fact, Federal Judge John Copenhaver asked Baisden to repeat his plea several times during the morning session at the Robert C. Byrd Courthouse.
In so doing, Baisden admitted that he attempted to coerce Appalachian Tire Products Company into selling him tires for his wife’s vehicle at the government rate. In fact, Baisden told Copenhaver he asked for the reduce price and then threatened, as county Purchasing Agent, to cut off the county ordering from the tire store in Williamson.
Unlike his first appearance in Federal court, Baisden was not accompanied by a large crowd. There was standing-room only in the courtroom when Baisden and Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury were arraigned a few weeks ago. The Judge was charged in a separate scheme.
Baisden appeared before the judge with his Charleston attorney, Jim Cagle. The County Commissioner, who agreed to submit his resignation from the Commission before being sentenced, appeared calm in his lightly-colored suit. He appeared to carefully listen as Copenhaver went over the violations he had committed, asking Baisden to repeatedly confirmed that he had done the things the government accused him of doing.
Copenhaver pointed out that Baisden had the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. He told the Commissioner that he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine as well as other costs and reparations.
With a FOX- Channel 59 artist sketching his appearance in court, Baisden readily answered all questions put to him by the Judge.
Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District Steve Ruby represented the government during the hearing which lasted a little over one hour.
On a personal basis, Baisden testified that he is 66 years old, lives at Delbarton and is a graduate of Burch High School. He swore he suffers no illnesses that would impair his ability to enter a guilty plea.
In one interesting note, Baisden testified that the episode that led to his telling Appalachian Tire no tires would be bought from them for the county, the county “continued to buy a few tires from Appalachian.”
In his plea agreement with the government, Baisden agreed to cooperate fully with any ongoing investigation. After Copenhaver sentences Baisden in January 2014 and he serves his required jail time, Baisden further agreed to remain under supervised release for three years. He further agreed that he will never again serve in an elective office.
Originally, Copenhaver set sentencing for January 7 but Ruby pointed out his wife is scheduled to deliver their child on January 6. With that, the Judge moved the sentencing back a week, to 1:30 p.m., January 14.