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W.Va. Official Resigns for Tire Purchasing Extortion

October 31, 2013

Photo via Wikimedia.
Photo via Wikimedia.

A West Virginia county elected leader resigned earlier this month, after pleading guilty to a federal extortion charge involving tire purchasing as the county's purchasing agent.

Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden pleaded guilty on Oct. 1, and resigned a week later. Baisden admitted to demanding that a county tire store sell him tires for his personal car at a deeply discounted price available only for government vehicles.

When the store insisted that Baisden pay the same price an ordinary citizen would, he cut off county business, which cost the store at least $20,000 since 2009, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Elected officials have to play by the same rules as everyone else," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. "This defendant abused his power to shake down an honest business for special favors."

In 2009, months after taking office, Baisden ordered a county garage employee to get him a set of tires from the county's tire supplier for his personal vehicle. Baisden demanded that the store give him the special government price, which included a steep discount not available to private citizens. He threatened to terminate the store’s county business if it refused and ultimately retaliated against the store by moving the county’s tire business elsewhere.

Baisden's plea agreement required him to resign from the county commission and never seek elective office again. At his Jan. 14 sentencing, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, although non-binding federal sentencing guidelines call for a significantly lower sentence.

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