CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board is asking a circuit judge to determine that ex-Mingo Judge Michael Thornsbury is ineligible to receive his pension following his felony conviction.
The retirement board filed its petition Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court, seeking to end retirement benefits for Thornsbury and any marital benefits received from his ex-wife Drema Thornsbury.
Mentioning his felony conviction, the petition asks the court to find that Thornsbury “rendered less than honorable service” under state code. Earlier this year, a federal judge sentenced Thornsbury to 50 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to depriving a man of his right to choose an attorney.
J. Jeaneen Legato, representing the retirement board, explained when a person is convicted of a felony offense related to a person’s employment, that qualifies as “less than honorable service.”
When the board receives notification that a person is convicted of a felony offense, it votes on whether the offense is related to that person’s employment.
“If the board votes to do that, notice is sent to the individual and the individual is told he has 40 days to request a judicial determination,” she explained. “That’s what happened in this case.”
Legato said after the board voted, Thornsbury asked for judicial determination. The petition notes Drema Thornsbury did not ask for judicial determination but was added “out of an abundance of caution.”
According to the petition, Thornsbury contributed a little more than $3,000 to the public employees’ retirement system and more than $167,000 to the judges’ retirement system.
Legato said former Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden’s benefits have been terminated. A federal judge sentenced Baisden to 20 months in prison for attempting to extort the county’s tire provider.
Thornsbury’s case is assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey. Legato explained sometimes the court will issue a ruling after attorneys submit briefs but sometimes will require parties to come to court to present their arguments.
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