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Former judge in WVa coalfields county sentenced to 50 months in prison in corruption case

A federal judge has sentenced a former judge in West Virginia to 50 months in prison on corruption charges, saying the defendant's abuse of power was like that of a "third-world dictator."

Michael Thornsbury, lone judge in Mingo County for 17 years, received a stiffer sentence from U.S. Judge Thomas E. Johnston than the 30 to 37 months federal guidelines suggested.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to deprive a campaign sign maker, George White, of his constitutional rights. Prosecutors said Thornsbury schemed to protect the county's late sheriff, Eugene Crum, from accusations that the sheriff bought prescription painkillers from White.

Prosecutors said Crum had White arrested early last year and White was kept 240 days behind bars.

Crum was fatally shot in April 2013 in his parked cruiser.

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