by Ron Gregory
WILLIAMSON — While national and local statistics show drug abuse continuing to be one of the major crime areas in the country, a man once convicted of drug trafficking in Mingo County has entered the race for Mingo County Clerk. Mingo is also widely recognized as a leading drug haven in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, where abuse has reached epic proportions.
Newspaper accounts from 2005 reveal that Anthony Blevins actually entered a guilty plea, along with other members of his family, before former Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury to drug charges. A special prosecutor had been assigned to the case because the family is related to then-Prosecutor Michael Sparks.
A sentencing order was entered in the case on January 23, 2006, and signed by Judge Thornsbury.
Original charges against the family were leveled by the Mingo Sheriff’s Department. Initially, they were charged with selling marijuana and prescription pain medications. Each defendant faced one to five-years in jail and a possible $5,000 fine. Beside Anthony Blevins, his parents, Dallas and Carol Blevins, and daughter-in-law Teressia were charged in the scheme. All listed Wharncliffe addresses.
As a candidate, listed as an Independent, Blevins used a Varney address on his filing form. The telephone number listed on his voter registration form is out of service and no other number could be located in his name to seek comment.
A County Clerk office spokesperson said Blevins is certified to appear on the November 8 ballot because “he was and is registered as an Independent.” Controversy arose after a Kanawha County Circuit Judge ruled that Erik Wells, a former state legislator, could not run for Kanawha Clerk as an independent since he is duly registered as a Democrat. No such problem existed for Blevins and several other candidates. Federal Court Judge Robert Chambers gave the go-ahead for their names to appear on ballots across the state.
As a Clerk candidate, Blevins is facing long-time public servant, Big Jim Hatfield, a Democrat who escaped the May primary with a less than 30-vote margin. Hatfield has served as a county commissioner and is the current county clerk.
When contacted about Blevins’ candidacy, Hatfield said, “I always just run my own race and, so far, it’s worked out. I don’t have anything bad to say about him. Let his record — and mine — speak for themselves.”
Maryclaire Akers served as special prosecutor in the case. Charles West represented the defendants. Since the Anthony Blevins entered guilty pleas, Judge Thornsbury moved directly to sentencing.
He ordered that the defendant be taken from the court to the Southwestern Regional Jail to be later transported to a correctional institution in the state to be “kept and confined as a sentence in this matter for an indeterminate period of one to five years pursuant to … (the) plea of guilty to the offense of Delivery of a Controlled Substance; to wit: marijuana. A motion for probation was denied. Blevins was given credit for the eight days he had already served incarcerated on the charges and for 99 days home confinement.
According to a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, illicit drug use in the United States has risen to its highest level in eight years. The group found that 8.7 percent of Americans aged 12 and older used drugs in the month prior to the survey, a nine percent rise from the 2008 rate.