TODAY

TODAY   |  August 16, 2013

Judge charged with intimidating romantic rival

A circuit judge in West Virginia has been charged with using his position to orchestrate a campaign of intimidation against a man he considered his romantic rival. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> he was charged with orchestrating this against ayman he considered a rival.

>> good morning, as federal prosecutors tell us the judge was a powerful figure in a small community and uses that against the husband of his secretary, a woman the judge wanted to marry. he has been released pending trial after he turned himself in thursday and was arrested, the result of a joint state federal investigation.

>> i'm not guilty. i'll be acquitted.

>> reporter: for the past 16 years he's been the only circuit judge in mingo county , west virginia . population 26,000. in early 2008 he began an affair with his married secretary. one she broke off a few months later.

>> in the process he corrupted the system of justice in mingo county for his own purposes.

>> reporter: a federal grand jury accused the judge of trying to have her husband, identified in court documents only as r.w., arrested by getting someone to plant illegal drugs on his pick up truck. that plan fell through. so then court documents say he persuaded a west virginia state trooper to falsely accuse r.w. of stealing from his employer. those charges were later dismissed. prosecutors say the charges were filed by brandon moore . he was named state trooper of the year in 2009 . around the time investigators claim he was doing the judge's bidding. he is on administrative leave. trooper moore also falsely told a state grand jury that r.w. was stealing at work. no comment from him. the government says judge thorns thornsbury kept it up for more than a year before giving up. he is charged with conspiring to violate the man's civil rights , the right against unreasonable arrest and the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law .

>> no comment from a lawyer for the judge. he has been ordered to stay away from anyone that might be a victim or a witness in the case. a list of more than 50 people.

>> such a bizarre story there. pete williams , thanks. investigators are