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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Friday, October 21, 2016

Federal jury finds Raleigh County man guilty of crimes involving witness tampering and obstruction of justice

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A federal jury sitting in Beckley returned a guilty verdict yesterday in the trial of a Raleigh County man for conspiracy to tamper with a witness and aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Mark Radcliffe, 59, of Shady Spring, was convicted following a three-day jury trial.

On December 23, 2015, Seth Radcliffe, the son of Mark Radcliffe, was facing kidnapping charges in an unrelated case. Witnesses for the United States testified that Mark Radcliffe directed Jimmie Harper, a codefendant, to take actions to illegally influence Seth Radcliffe’s case. Harper testified that immediately following Seth Radcliffe’s arrest for kidnapping on December 23, 2015, he and Mark Radcliffe began discussing how they needed to get a witness to minimize Seth Radcliffe’s actions. Harper further testified that he and Mark Radcliffe formed a plan on December 24, 2015, to have a witness lie to law enforcement about the kidnapping.

Harper additionally testified that on January 24, 2016, he met with witnesses in Seth Radcliffe’s case in an attempt to influence testimony before a federal grand jury. Before the meeting, Harper testified that he spoke to Mark Radcliffe about the plan and obtained a letter written by Seth Radcliffe that was read aloud during the meeting. Harper also testified that during the same meeting, at Mark Radcliffe’s direction, he emphasized that the kidnapping charges against Seth Radcliffe needed to go away because of the severe penalties. Harper additionally testified that he suggested, also at Mark Radcliffe’s direction, limiting answers that could be damaging to Seth Radcliffe by responding with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Harper testified that Seth Radcliffe’s letter was not factually correct, and that he and Mark Radcliffe intended to corruptly influence witness testimony.

Text messages and phone calls admitted into evidence during the trial showed significant communication between Mark Radcliffe and Jimmie Harper prior to Harper’s meeting with the witnesses. Additionally, calls between Seth Radcliffe and Mark Radcliffe that were also admitted into evidence showed extensive communication regarding an unlawful strategy to get Seth Radcliffe’s charges dismissed.

Radcliffe faces up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to tamper with a witness and up to 10 years in federal prison for aiding and abetting the obstruction of justice. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 1, 2017. Harper was sentenced in August 2016 to seven years for an unrelated federal arson crime, followed by a consecutive sentence of two years for the witness tampering crime.

The West Virginia State Police, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Monica D. Coleman and Haley Bunn handled the prosecution and tried the case before a federal jury. United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the trial.

Updated October 21, 2016