Mingo County officials reinstated a deputy nearly eight months after he was fired, according to Sheriff James Smith.
Sgt. Arthur Farra is now speaking out about how he became entangled in the web of corruption that has seemingly reached every corner of Mingo County.
"Once you taint a police officer's name, that's about the worst thing you could do to a police officer," Farra said. "Before I was fired, I know they'd get rid of me if they could."
The deputy was terminated from the Mingo County Sheriff's Department in February 2013. He said he knows exactly why. In 2012, he began investigating drug allegations about the late Sheriff Eugene Crum.
Crum was elected in 2012. At the time, Smith served as the chief field deputy. He said someone approached him after the election.
"I was approached after the 2012 election by somebody who's close to [Judge] Thornsbury stating if I got rid of Sgt. Farra by the first of the year, I might be able to keep my chief's job, which I declined to do," Smith said.
According to Smith, a tenuous relationship existed between the judge and Farra.
"Sgt. Farra and Thornsbury just didn't get along very well," Smith said. "Why, I'm not sure."
Farra said he was once engaged to Thornsbury niece, which sparked the tension.
Judge Thornsbury is the former circuit court judge in Mingo County. He pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in October. Prosecutors accused him of conspiring to deprive a man of his constitutional rights. In August, Thornsbury was charged in a different incident in which he tried framing his ex-lover's husband.
Smith said that individual wanted to target two other officers: Lt. Joey Ferris and Deputy Mike Miller. Farra said he was also investigating claims about several electronic surveillance warrants-allegedly obtained to cover up someone's crimes. He did not elaborate on who obtained the warrants.
"I think it was knowledge we had sat down with federal investigators," Farra said.
After Crum became sheriff, Farra noticed big changes. Crum transferred Farra to Mingo Central Consolidated High School to work as the prevention resource officer. He also confiscated the deputy's car.
"I believe that was a form of punishment for Sgt. Farra," Smith said.
Farra said he was also forced to take a drug test.
"This drug test was very unorthodox," he said. "It was given at a location out of the courthouse...and it wasn't conducted by the sheriff's office, it was conducted by the Mingo County Commission."
In Feb., the department fired Farra over insubordination. The deputy claims officials falsely accused him of missing a day at Mingo Central.
He hired attorney Andy Katz and appealed the decision. The hearing came before the Mingo County Deputy Civil Service Commission. Ultimately, the body upheld Crum's decision.
Tides changed for Farra in Sept., as a federal probe unfurled into several elected officials.
Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks said in September he requested the department reinstate Farra with back pay based on new information.
Sparks resigned from his post in October—the same day he was charged with depriving a man of his constitutional rights. He is expected to plead guilty to the federal charge later this month.
Farra officially returned to work Oct. 28. It's a decision Sheriff Smith supports.
"Anytime you target a man just because you don't like him is wrong," said Smith, who was appointed sheriff in September. "I feel Sgt. Farra was attacked that way."
Since his reinstatement, Farra has been working as a prevention resource officer at Tug Valley High School. Pending paperwork, he should return to the field next week.
Farra said he's anxious to get back on the road.
"There was good people out there who tried to do the right thing, but there was a time in this county that it didn't matter. Your voice couldn't be heard," Farra said. "I'm very excited, very excited to put this behind me."
In April, Crum was shot while eating lunch in downtown Williamson.