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West Virginia prosecutor loses law license amid federal probe into drug coverup

(Reuters) - A West Virginia prosecutor had his law license revoked on Friday just days after he was charged in a federal probe for covering up the alleged drug use of the local sheriff.

Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks resigned on Thursday, just a day before the West Virginia Supreme Court voted 5-0 to revoke his license to practice law.

Federal prosecutors allege that Sparks tried to protect the reputation of the sheriff by preventing a drug dealer from telling the FBI that the sheriff was using Oxycodone, a prescription narcotic that is widely abused.

Prosecutors said Sparks, a judge and others offered the drug dealer a lighter sentence in exchange for his cooperation in the coverup.

Earlier this month, Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges for his role in the case.

Sheriff Eugene Crum was killed in April in an unrelated shooting.

The shooting occurred amid a heightened awareness of attacks on U.S. law enforcement officials after two prosecutors in one Texas town and the Colorado prisons chief were killed in apparent targeted attacks this year.

Sparks declined to comment on Friday but in his resignation letter on Thursday said he made a mistake in judgment and now accepts the consequences.

(Reporting by Ann Moore in Beckley, West Virigina; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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