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West Virginia judge accused of framing former lover's husband

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - A West Virginia judge was arrested on Thursday and charged in federal court with attempting to plant evidence on a former lover's husband and having him arrested for a crime he did not commit.

Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, 57, also was accused of appointing a business partner to be foreman of the grand jury investigating the husband, the indictment said.

Thornsbury, Mingo County's only circuit judge since 1997, was arrested on Thursday, according to a federal prosecutor. He was released after paying a $10,000 bond, according to court documents.

Thornsbury had a romantic relationship with his secretary starting in early 2008, the federal indictment said. After she broke it off in June of that year, Thornsbury sought retaliation against the woman's husband, it said.

The names of the woman and her husband were redacted from the indictment.

Thornsbury tried unsuccessfully to hire someone to plant drugs under the man's car so he would be arrested and later arranged to have the man unduly charged with stealing from his employer, according to the indictment.

The judge then allegedly appointed a business partner, who ran a commercial real estate development firm and a wine shop with him, to be foreman of the grand jury to continue investigating the man. He ultimately abandoned his effort when his ties to the foreman were discovered.

Later, in 2012, Thornsbury sought to have the same man charged with assault and sentenced to six months in jail following a fight initiated by two other men, the indictment said. The prosecutor ultimately dismissed the charges.

Thornsbury was charged with two counts of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of the victim in regard to unreasonable arrest and right to due process.

(Editing By Brendan O'Brien, Kevin Gray and Bill Trott)

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